By Sarah Elmquist Squires

Managing Editor

The Veterans Hall in Riverton honored veterans at Mountain View Cemetery. (photo by Sarah Elmquist Squires)

We need to remember who we are, where we came from, and where we are going,” American Legion Vice Commander Warren Hess said during the Riverton Memorial Day ceremony. 

Some of them were buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in Mount Hope Cemetery, in Cheyenne National Cemetery. Some of them have been missing since they paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

All U.S. fallen military heroes were honored on Monday, when shadowed graves were adorned with wreathes and bouquets, single roses. Memorial Day drew hundreds to sites across Fremont County to pay tribute to those who gave everything for us.

U.S. Senator John Barrasso spoke at the Memorial Day services in Lander’s Mount Hope Cemetery while American Legion Post 33 and District 3 Chaplain Reverend Michael Tanner looked on. (photo by Marit Gookin)

“Watching that flag go up reminds me of the shortest speech President Lincoln ever gave,” remarked U.S. Sen. John Barasso, who spoke during Lander’s Memorial Day program. He recounted that Lincoln speech: I can raise the flag, “but it’s your job to keep it there.”

“This day is sacred … We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in service of our country, and those others who have dropped their burdens by the wayside,” shared Mark Keiser, commander of American Legion Post 33. “The flag of our country was theirs to defend; its glorious colors shall wave over them in death as in life, for all to see.” 

American Legion Vice Commander Warren Hess spoke at Mountain View Cemetery. (photo by Ernie Over)

Hess shared the history of Memorial Day. It was originally established as Decoration Day on May 5, 1868, to decorate with flowers the graves of military men and women who died in the Civil War. It was originally declared for May 30, and known to have been chosen because flowers would be readily available all across the U.S. State legislatures passed proclamations for Decoration Day; after WWI the holiday expanded to include veterans who died in all American wars. Then, in 1971, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday by Congress as the last Monday in May each year. 

Wherever a comrade lies is sacred ground, Hess told those gathered in Riverton. “They have made us debtors” with their sacrifice, he said.

“Reagan was right when he said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Sen. Barasso said during Lander’s ceremony; he commended Lander Valley High School military science students as “the best in the state.” 

Commander Keiser noted the emblem of the American Flag: “Let us grasp [the flag] with fearless hands … and place it always on the battlements of righteousness.”

Marit Gookin contributed to this report