Red Wing honors veterans on Memorial DayAdjunct Major General Richard Nash speaks at Red Wing's Memorial Day celebration.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
On Memorial Day and in the days leading up to it, American flags wave across the nation — in public parks, cemeteries, front lawns and downtown streets. This is a time when bronze stars mark the graves of veterans, fresh flowers appear next to headstones and towns are practically painted red, white and blue.
So it’s no wonder that the last Monday in May dedicated to remembering fallen military personnel was originally known as Decoration Day.
A lot of times when people hear the term decoration, their minds go to ornaments and twinkle lights adorning tall trees.
“For me, I can’t help but think of … ‘Christmas Vacation,’” Minnesota’s Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard Nash said at Red Wing’s Memorial Day service Monday.
Recalling a particular scene in the classic National Lampoon movie, Nash, the keynote speaker at the event, described how character Clark Griswold achieved the most brilliant holiday decorations in the town.
“And he does this by nearly killing himself, blinding his neighbors and draining the town’s power supply,” Nash said.
Take the ornaments, Christmas lights and wreaths away and replace them with ribbons, flowers and flags and you’ve got Memorial Day decorations. But, Nash said, the decorating shouldn’t stop there.
“A decoration is more than just a ribbon,” he said. “It is our way of gracing someone’s memory with service and honor.”
For that reason, Nash encouraged the hundreds of local residents in attendance at Bay Point Park on Monday to find an alternative meaning in the word and recognize it.
Nash said Memorial Day doesn’t need to be a day of mourning. Instead, it can be a day of optimism, where people don’t dwell on sadness of the past but find things around them to induce inspiration and hope.
“We need to decorate our nation with our military stories,” Nash said.
The one-hour Memorial Day event in Red Wing added a lot of decoration to the town while lost lives were remembered. In addition to Nash’s speech, the event featured musical interludes from the Red Wing High School band and choir, as well as remarks from Mayor Dennis Egan and the reading of the Gettysburg Address.
The program drew to a close with salutes by the 2nd Minnesota Battery and veterans firing squad, and the playing of Taps.