By Ron VandenBoom
America's fallen veterans were honored with pride, dignity and reverence Monday in a series of observances that emphasized the important contribution veterans have made to the community and their sacrifice to the nation.
Ceremonies at the Hill County Courthouse attracted several hundred guests who braved gusty winds to remember, honor and pay tribute to the fallen veterans.
A large honor-guard composed of active and retired military personnel and members of Havre area Girl and Boy Scout organizations highlighted the observance as they stood at attention for a 21-gun-salute and the release of dozens of balloons containing the names of veterans.
The salute culminated the open air portion of the program that had also included the playing of Taps, the singing of the National Anthem, the reading of the names of recently fallen veterans, and the laying of wreaths on the Veteran's Memorial.
Several representatives from Canadian veteran's organizations also participated in the morning's events by placing a wreath on the veteran's memorial.
Following the outdoor portion of the ceremonies, Robert (Bob) Rice, commander of VFW Post 497, welcomed more than 200 guests to the indoor portion of the observance and told the crowd that it was a sacred day to all war veterans.
He told the crowd that while no veteran needs to be reminded of the importance commemorating veterans, it is another issue when talking about the general population and future generations.
"Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance," Rice said. "America's collective conscience demands that all citizens be aware and recall on special occasions the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime."
Rice told the crowd that all too often the nation takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy.
"Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of other," Rice said.
Rice admonished the crowd that remembering those who sacrificed all should be thought of as a civic obligation and a national debt that can only truly be repaid by honoring America's was dead.
"It is essential if the idea of remembering the war dead is to be instilled in the young," he said.
The highlight of the ceremony was the induction of 10 veterans into the Wall of Fame they were:
A short biography of each inductee was read and a flower and banner were presented to a surviving relative along with a round of applause.
Five VFW members who have given of their time and effort to the success and goals of local veteran's organizations were also inducted into Uncle Sam's Finest VFW Post 497 Hall of Fame. They were:
The ceremony also featured an emotional reading of the history of the song "Taps" and the singing of several patriotic songs.
The observance concluded with Dena Rudio singing an emotional rendition of "God Bless the USA."