Rain was a last-minute glitch, but people still found their way to Hillsboro American Legion’s post home for annual Memorial Day ceremonies changed by social distancing.
The threat of rain forced organizers to move observances, which included full military honors, from Memorial Park and push the time back a half-hour to give people time to find them.
“It’s a little different, I guess,” county commissioner Kent Becker said as people took shelter in tailgates of their cars and waited for Congressman Roger Marshall to speak. “Maybe they thought it was going to be continually raining and it was easier to do it here.”
“At least they are having it,” said Hillsboro resident Cody Schafer. “It is very important to a lot of people, and they could have just as easily canceled it.”
Congressman Marshall, whose speech was broadcast to vehicles by short-range AM radio, reminded his audience of the history of a day that began when Americans took the time to decorate the graves of soldiers killed during the Civil War.
“Like many of you I still remember calling this Decoration Day growing up,” he said.
For centuries, Americans have paused to honor soldiers who have given their lives, he said.
“I know this might be a bit of an unusual request,” he said under a canopy that sheltered him from steady drizzle, “but if someone in your family lost their life while serving in our nation’s military, while rest of us remain with our heads bowed, can you honk your horns?
“Can you clap for those who gave up their lives for our freedom?”
Participants applauded from their cars.
Marshall, who served in the Army Reserves, told families who lost loved ones that their sacrifice would not be forgotten.
“This great country can never say ‘thank-you’ often enough,” he said, adding that many who gathered in the Legion’s parking lot had served in the military and lost friends.
“You have the courage stand up and be here today and honor them,” he said.
Marshall said the dwindling number of Americans serving in the military unfortunately meant fewer understood sacrifice.
“As your congressman I urge you to tell stories,” he said. “Tell them over and over again. Share your stories before you leave this Earth.”