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Delton-area Memorial Day services honor heroes

Luke Froncheck Staff Writer: People lined the streets in Hickory Corners and Prairieville during Monday’s Memorial Day parades. Firetruck sirens wailed and marching bands played as children scattered along the edge of the procession as candy was thrown from passing vehicles.

Both Delton Kellogg and Gull Lake high school bands performed during the Hickory Corners parade; Delton Kellogg also performed in the Memorial Day parade in Prairieville.

A ceremony followed the parade in Prairieville.

The audience gathered around a microphone as three individuals spoke about the importance of remembering and honoring those who have fought for the United States.

The Delton Kellogg band began the service by performing the national anthem.

“I’ve never seen a group of students that put so much time into honoring the veterans of their community,” veteran and Delton Kellogg Band Booster President Will Eichelberger said.

“I was thinking about what to mention today,” Lighthouse Baptist Church Pastor Steve Smail said during the service. “I was thinking about the fact that we live in a society, a world, of heroes.

“At many times, we look up to different people for different things. Many times, people look to sports heroes, Hollywood heroes, musicians, and some even look to the Marvel comic superheroes as their heroes.”

“The real heroes in society today are those serving all around the world making sure that our freedoms are protected,” Smail said. “They gave their lives as a sacrifice for those that love, for the country that they love, to the flag that they love, for the soldiers standing next to them.

“That, to me, is a real hero – someone who is willing to give up their life for the good of others.”

Smail went on to speak about Pvt. Martin Treptow, an American World War I veteran. According to Smail, Treptow left his job as a small-town barber in 1917 to go serve his country in France.

“He served his country faithfully,” Smail said. “One day he was carrying a message between battalions and he was killed by machine gun fire. After Pvt. Treptow was killed, a diary was found in which he inscribed the following: ‘America must win this war; therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.’ ”

“This is the spirit of a hero,” Smail said, “someone who took personal responsibility, personal accountability, to make sure he did what he had to do to give all that he could to make America great. He gave his life – paid the ultimate price. That, my friends, is a hero.”

Smail then posed the question: “How can we honor heroes like Treptow in the greatest way?”

“We can have days like today to remember those who served,” he said. “We can go to cemeteries and see the stones of people who have fallen in the past.

“But another way we can honor those fallen soldiers is that we do the same thing that Treptow did,” Smail continued. “He personally took responsibility for making America a great country, even at the cost of his own life.

“Sadly, today America has become so divided. May we as people today do as Pvt. Treptow did. May we make a personal challenge to ourselves to say that we will do all we can to make sure America can be as great as it can be. I encourage you to take the challenge with me: To know and love our neighbors. May we be people that stand united as the people of the United States of America.”

Veteran and pastor Roger Claypool of Solid Rock Bible Church also spoke to those gathered at the Prairieville Cemetery.

“I assure you today that I am not a hero,” he said. “But there are many heroes here today. I got drafted back in 1966 and served two years. I got tired of taking orders, so I got out. I left the military for 18 years, but the military never left me. I’m proud that I could serve.

“Veterans are people who answered the call when they were called on. Veterans are people who went where they were told to go and did what they were told to do,” Claypool said. “They were willing to lay their lives down for our country. They died so that we could remain free.”

Following Claypool’s words Tommy Baldwin, a veteran and member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 422, also spoke to the importance of honoring those who have served.

“Veterans are aware of the danger, but yet they respond without hesitance to the call of duty,” Baldwin said. “The United States will always honor those who go forth in defense of our nation, the true guardians of freedom and justice for all.”

Members of VFW Post 422 honor guard fired three volleys to honor those who have fallen in the defense of the United States. A member of the Delton Kellogg band closed with a single trumpet playing taps and a prayer led by Smail.

The service was great, said David Roe, a veteran in attendance.

“I’m glad to have everyone out,” Prairieville Township Supervisor Jim Stoneburner said. “We’re honored to thank our veterans for their service by doing this for them.”

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