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Honor Guard marks Memorial Day

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ST. IGNATIUS — On a drizzly, chilly Memorial Day, the Mission Valley Honor Guard toured three cemeteries in Arlee and St. Ignatius, taking time to reflect and honor those who died in military service. After gatherings at the Jocko Valley Cemetery in Arlee and Pleasant View Cemetery in St. Ignatius, J.C. Courville led a service at the Catholic Cemetery in St. Ignatius at 11:30 a.m. The Honor Guard marked the grave of Thomas Orr, the last veteran buried in the cemetery, with a rifle and military helmet before beginning the ceremony. 

“We veterans are here today to honor our fallen comrades,” Courville said. “It’s something we must do; it’s something we’re honored to do, and they deserve no less.”

Memorial Day began as a tribute to Civil War military dead, and was eventually expanded to honor Americans who died in all wars, Courville explained. 

“It’s not about a three-day weekend; it’s not about division, as in the North and the South … it’s about reconciliation,” he said. “Remember all veterans: all gave some, and some gave all.”

American Legion Post 106’s Auxiliary Chaplain LaVonne Olmsted placed a wreath on Orr’s grave. She told the small crowd to remember that the soldier’s sacrifice isn’t just dying on the battlefield, but everything they give while living.

“Their service happens in their hearts. It happens with their families,” Olmsted said. “There’s no dignity on the battlefield. There’s no dignity in Jesus on the cross. 

“It’s not how we die that counts … it’s what happens after.”

Olmsted then led the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer before Derena Plant reminded everyone to remember, too, the veterans who may not have been killed or physically injured in war but still suffered emotional damage. 

“We have plenty of veterans who quit living after going to war,” Plant said. “Be thankful for all who serve.”

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