Memorial Day is more than just a day off work, or a day to be spent enjoying family barbecues and pontooning on the lake: It's the day set aside each year for Americans to remember those military men and women who gave their lives in service to their country — and those Gold Star families who will never forget.
"Have your barbecue, enjoy your day off ... but please don't forget why we gather on this day," said Detroit Lakes American Legion Post 15 Commander Larry Krosko, who also asked the 100 or so people present for Monday's festivities at Veterans Memorial Park to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the families that never got to welcome them home from the battlefield.
"They don't really have a word for a parent who has lost a child," said Krosko — though those who have lost a son or daughter in service to their country, he added, are called Gold Star parents.
"We remember, and we thank you for your sacrifice," he continued, adding that those who serve in the Armed Forces are "extraordinarily self-sacrificing individuals."
Monday's ceremony also included a 21-gun salute by members of the Lake Region Veterans Color Guard, and a performance of "Taps" by bugler Ricky Skogen.
Skogen said that he had been performing "Taps" for "about 50 years," and added, "It's the least I can do to honor the veterans."
Skogen said that his uncle, Earl Olson, was one of those whose name is listed on the World War II memorial at Veterans Memorial Park, which includes all those from Becker County who gave their lives in military service during the war.
"He died on May 29, 1943, at Chichagof Valley, Attu," said Skogen, referring to the site of heavy fighting during the battle to retake Alaska's Aleutian Islands from the Japanese.
The Avenue of Flags at Detroit Lakes' Oak Grove Cemetery, which displayed hundreds of American flags throughout the weekend, also drew big crowds, as did the flag display on the Detroit Lakes City Beach.