Paying tribute to those who defended freedom

WARRENSBURG - With reverence and pride, townspeople of all ages gathered along sidewalks beside Elm and Hudson streets to watch the parade held annually in observance of Memorial Day.

Sunlight glinted off polished fire trucks and chromed axes carried by members of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co. in full dress uniform. They were joined by firefighters hailing from Thurman.

Emergency medical responders from both Warrensburg and Thurman also paraded, along with scouters, young ball players, all striding to the town cemetery for a traditional ceremony. Young 4H club members rode on a float, holding small animals.

Parade Marshal for 2009 was Lou Poltanis, a veteran from Stony Creek, and a member of the local American Legion post.

The Warrensburg High School Marching Band, accompanied by a flag-twirling corps, offered music along the way.

American Legion Post 446 Commander Carson Parker welcomed the hundreds of townspeople gathered in the cemetery in front of the veterans memorial. "This day is sacred with the almost visible presence of those who went before us," he said.

Roger Richards, Pastor of Warrensburg First Baptist Church, offered the invocation.

"Let us remember the great sacrifices of those men and women who fought for liberty so we could all dwell together in safety.

Local boy scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Warrensburg High School Band played the Star-Spangled Banner as townspeople gazed at the flag waving above the granite veterans memorial.

Mary Kenyon of the local American Legion Auxiliary and Marge Parker of the VFW Auxiliary solemnly placed wreaths in front of the memorial as a tribute to those who served their country in military service.

Warren County Sheriff Nathan "Bud" York, a resident of Warrensburg, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.

"We should never forget those who fought to protect our way of life," he said. "It is because of our armed services that we enjoy our freedoms."

York paid tribute to veterans past and present, with a special mention to his son-in-law Mark Schumaker, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient who just finished two tours of duty in Iraq and returned wounded.

Parker also paid tribute to the soldiers of today as well as years past.

"Veterans stand tall and look the world in the eye," he said. "They are the first to volunteer and the last to come home."

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