MARYSVILLE – A bright scarlet flag was draped over the gravesite of Ronnie Hayes of Marysville Monday.
On it says, “United State Marine Corps.” Above it are an eagle with a ribbon saying “Semper Fidelis” in its mouth standing on a globe of the world with an anchor running through it. Also adorning the gravesite were similar flags, a U.S. flag, a small banner that says, “Let Freedom Ring,” and various flower arrangements.
Hayes was only 19 when he was killed in Vietnam in 1967. His mom, Wanda Shurtleff, and her husband Ross stood proudly next to it as people filed in to attend the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Marysville Cemetery.
Wanda said a friend of her son’s, Bud Noble of Anacortes, decorates Ronnie’s grave every Memorial Day. “He never fails,” she said.
Such dedication is what Memorial Day is all about.
Prior to 1967, the event actually was called Decoration Day, Mayor Jon Nehring said when he addressed the audience of about 150 people.
He said about 1 million people have died defending this country. “That’s how costly freedom is,” he said.
Nehring said that’s what makes the U.S. stand out. Other superpowers in the history of the world have gone to war to conquer other nations and obtain power that way. The U.S. has done it only to protect what it has. “That helps define who we are,” he said. “These are not wars of conquest.”
Nehring said our military consists of the bravest and best this nation has to offer. He then asked for a few moments of silence, saying sometimes “words are not adequate.”
In conclusion, he said the military cannot be thanked enough as they love their country so much, they are willing to die for it.
The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 178 then gave a flower presentation for Prisoners of War/Missing in Action. Red stands for the blood shed for liberty, white for pure sacred soil and blue for those who sleep beneath the ocean waves.
“The flowers may wither, but this symbol will endure until the end of time,” Post 178 Cmdr. Daniel Grumbach said.
The event concluded with an emotional rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” by Alyssa Bojador of the Marysville high school Navy Junior ROTC, a rifle salute from honor guard Eugene Brown, Ron Collins, Dan Pradera and Jim Sewell, taps, a closing prayer from post Chaplain Robert French, and the retiring of the colors.
Earlier, cadet Melissa Knight of the NJROTC sang the national anthem.
More than once in the service city historian Ken Cage, who was a mainstay in this ceremony for years, was mentioned. He passed away recently, but his wife, Ethel, participated in the ceremony as part of the auxiliary.