GREENFIELD — American Legion Post 119 once again hosted its annual Memorial Day service Monday morning in Greenfield’s Park Cemetery.

The featured speaker was Nate Anderson, a Greenfield resident who serves as a First Sergeant in the Indiana Army National Guard.

Anderson enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2006 then transitioned to the National Guard in 2017.

He works full-time in law enforcement as a school resource officer for the Franklin Township Schools in Indianapolis and is running for Indiana State Representative in District 53 this fall.

“Memorial Day is very personal for me,” he shared before Monday’s service. “We almost lost my brother in Iraq. He’s a purple heart recipient who almost died. The medic who saved his life ended up getting killed in action about two weeks later. So, obviously as a service member still in service, this is personal and I think it’s important to take time and remember those folks (who lost their lives),” he said.

American Legion post commander Jennifer Manning welcomes the crowd at Monday’s Memorial Day service at Park Cemetery in Greenfield. Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

As a military veteran and commander of American Legion Post 119 in Greenfield, Jennifer Manning said she too has the utmost respect for Memorial Day.

“I’ll say it every time: It’s not about the barbecues. It’s not about the beer. It’s not about the day off and those deals you get at the store,” she said.

“Those are all nice, but all this weekend and this day is because of the people who gave their lives in defense of this country and defending our freedom … We should never forget the sacrifices these people have made and how they have affected not just our country but even our county and city,” she said.

Anderson, a member of both Greenfield’s American Legion post and the VFW, said he was honored to be asked to serve as this year’s Memorial Day speaker.

He opened his remarks noting the significance of the day.

“Memorial Day is not just a day marked on our calendars; it is a profound moment of reflection, a day when we remember the courage, sacrifice and dedication of our fallen military service members throughout the history of the United States,” he said.

“Since the Revolutionary War in 1775 to this very day, an estimated (1.4 million) service members have died in service to our nation. Additionally, 40,031 are still missing in action. To grasp the weight of this number, if we converted these lives into minutes… it would equal 969 days. Each of these minutes, each of these lives, tells a story of valor and of sacrifice. That is why we are here today, to honor and remember them — our nation’s fallen heroes.”

From the the fields of Gettysburg to the deserts of Iraq, “American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have faced unimaginable dangers to defend the freedoms that you and I both cherish today,” he said. “They have fought with unmatched valor and have paid the ultimate price to ensure that the torch of liberty continues to shine brightly.”

A little girl clutched two miniature U.S. flags in her hands at the Memorial Day ceremony at Greenfield’s Park Cemetery on Monday, May 27. Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

In her own remarks, Manning shared that Hancock County has a long history of recognizing its veterans by hosting parades and decorating the graves of those who died in service.

“In total Hancock County has lost about 300 service members to war,” she said, including about 17 in World War I, 36 in World War II, two in the Korean War and 11 in the Vietnam War.

“I feel fortunate to say that our county has not lost anybody to combat during the Global War on Terrorism,” she said.

Anderson said that while it’s imperative to always remember those whose lives were lost, it’s also essential to recognize the “resilience and strength” of those who have served and survived.

“We, the veterans here today, proudly carry forward the torch of duty and honor. Our experiences, our stories and our continued dedication to the principles of freedom and justice are vital to our national fabric. Our presence here today is a powerful reminder that the spirit of service and sacrifice lives on,” he said.

He gave special recognition to Gold Star families, those who have lost an immediate family member who died while serving in the military, including parents, siblings, spouses and children.

To those families, “we offer you our deepest gratitude and our unwavering support. Your loved ones’ bravery is etched in the history of our country, and their spirit continues to inspire us all,” he said.

Anderson encouraged those present to draw inspiration from the valor that has been shown by those who lost their lives defending the United States.

“In their honor, let us pledge to work towards a future together where freedom and peace prevail, a future where the sacrifices of the past are not in vain. Let us continue to build a nation that stands as a beacon of hope, a defender of liberty, and a model of justice,” he said.

Anderson ended his speech with a quote from John F. Kennedy: “A nation reveals itself not only by the men and women it produces but also by the men and women it honors, the men and women it remembers,” he read.

“Today, we honor and remember our fallen heroes,” Anderson concluded. “Their legacy is our strength, their sacrifice is our solemn duty to uphold.”

A service dog attended a Memorial Day ceremony at Park Cemetery in Greenfield on Monday, May 27. Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter