Patriotism In Bonners Ferry, Idaho
By Donna Capurso, Patriot Journalist
Residents of Boundary County began congregating on Main Street in Bonners Ferry, the county seat located in the northern most part of Idaho, starting an hour before the Memorial Day parade on May 31st, 2021. By 10:00 am all of the sidewalks from one end of Main Street to the very end of town were literally packed with hundreds of adults and the children were so excited holding their bags to gather candy which parade participants would be throwing to the children as they passed by.
The parade began with the Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard carrying our American flag, Idaho State flag, and firefighting tools as well. These men often represent Boundary County as our honor guard and they are Ken Baker, Tony Rohrwasser, Len Pine, Wally Nyberg and Alan Hamilton.
They were followed by a local Boy Scout troop who also carried the colors and they were followed by the Bonners Ferry High School band playing patriotic music. Several vehicles pulling flatbed trailers carried many local veterans and the youngsters began picking up candy thrown out by parade participants. It was enjoyable watching how excited the kids were as they gathered up their small treasures. One Marine Veteran riding his motorcycle had his dog in a carrier right behind him.
Vintage Jeeps and the Rod Benders Car Club vehicles kept coming down the street, followed by a horse drawn carriage and then a plethora of city and county vehicles from every fire department in the county, which was a considerable number. Then came US Customs, Chaplain Corps Vehicles, Boundary County Sheriff’s Department, Search and Rescue, 4H Roadrunners, and last but not least, lots of horses with their riders. Once the parade was over, a majority of the locals and parade participants headed to the Grandview Cemetery in Bonners Ferry for the ceremony recognizing the ultimate sacrifice of those Americans that were lost on battlegrounds around the world. The loss of the military members was and is equally painful to the family members of those lost in battle. And we should all keep those currently in the military in our thoughts and prayers, fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Syria, patrolling the seas, guarding our embassies around the world, as well as a presence on the Korean Peninsula.
There are nearly 1000 bases around the world where our military are stationed representing American interests. There are currently 1.4 million active duty military service members which is actually 30.8% smaller than it was in 1990 with 2.1 million active duty members.
Manny Figueroa with the VFW was the emcee for the recognition ceremony honoring our fallen military personnel at the cemetery and welcomed the guests. Pastor Len Pine prayed for us after the Honor Guard posted the colors and Rebecca Huseby sang “The Star Spangled Banner. Cali Iacolucci, Bonners Ferry Distinguished Young Woman, made a lovely presentation. Master Sergeant Michael Spurgeon gave a special commemoration, followed by Boundary County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Schuman, all of whom made this event special.
At the end of the ceremony, there was a volley of shots fired as a salute to the deceased, followed by a bugler playing “Taps.” When Pastor Pine sang “God Bless America”, I know that I was not the only one with tears in my eyes as this Memorial Day event came to a close.
After the ceremony I asked Pastor Len Pine what Memorial Day means to him: “For me, Memorial Day is the ultimate antidote to entitlement. The God-given rights I enjoy have been secured by others; I deserve none of those rights, having done nothing to obtain them. I may continue living out those rights because others died to defend them. So rather than entitlement, I am filled with a profound gratitude for the sacrifices my forefathers made, and am thereby motivated to sacrifice what and when I must for sake of my children, grandchildren, and all who share in the blessings of this great country.”
Kathryn, a local Bonners Ferry resident at the memorial, said “Memorial Day is a somber reminder of the sacrifices made by the hundreds of thousands who died so that I might be free. Free to speak, assemble, travel, think, and ‘pursue happiness.’ All those men and women were Heroes – who died so that others might live in freedom. The words Honor, Duty, Valor, Noble, and Sacrifice come to mind. Memorial Day is a day to appreciate and remember them, and to search myself – what am I doing in my own life to have earned their sacrifice? Today is also a day to rejoice. I rejoice, knowing I am only one of the tens of millions of Americans who are also remembering, praying, and are grateful for our freedoms that were paid for by the blood of American Patriots.”
Some history of Memorial Day:
The first national celebration of Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. The national observance of Memorial Day still takes place there today, with the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the decoration of each grave with a small American flag.
The holiday has changed a bit since it first began, which some argue was even earlier than Logan’s dedication. Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the end of the Civil War. After the war, a women’s memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, put flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers in 1866, an act of generosity that inspired the poem by Francis Miles Finch, “The Blue and the Grey,” published in the Atlantic Monthly.
In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all those who died in American wars. And, as occurred at the Grandview Cemetery in Bonners Ferry, people paid tribute not only with flowers but also with a parade on Main Street and speeches at the cemetery.
All photos: Donna Capurso/Redoubt News
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