Memorial Day Commemoration at Saint Joseph Cemetery honors fallen soldiers
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Many Michiana communities are marking Memorial Day by paying tribute to our nation's fallen heroes. More than 1,760 veterans were honored and saluted by people gathered at Saint Joseph Cemetery this Memorial Day. Family and friends of fallen soldiers came out to pay their respects, one pair saying that the reading of the veterans' names was especially heartwarming.
"There were names there that Ralph and I had known, and it was just really special," says Barbara Guftafson, a spectator to the event.
“I was proud to read those names, and know those people," Ralph Szczepanski, a volunteer for the event. "They were part of my life, I went to school with them and I served with them.”
Concluding with the volley salute and playing of taps, a highlight of the commemoration was the missing man flyby, signifying the souls of the brave men and women going west to rest in peace. It's typically saved for the Memorial Day Parade, but a committee member says the decision to do it at this event made it more meaningful.
“The gentlemen that did the flyover decided they still wanted to do the flyover on Memorial Day, and this was the perfect time," says Rosalie Emma-Sullivan, a committee member for the Memorial Day Parade. "More meaningful, more heartfelt.”
Organizers say they wanted to make sure anyone who did not receive recognition the past few Memorial Days was properly honored this year.
“ From March of 2019 to March of 2022, we wanted to make sure that they were recognized," Emma-Sullivan says. "And since they couldn’t be in the parade, we reached out to Saint Joe and they were happy to help us out and read all of their names this morning.”
An emotional but moving day, especially for those remembering lost loved ones.
“I looked out into the cemetery to see other people driving up and going to the funeral plots of their family members and honoring them today," Emma-Sullivan recalls. "So not only hearing our memorial, the memorial that was here, but to just see everyone going and honoring each individual family member or friend as we were conducting the memorial is very touching.”
“So special, so heartwarming," Guftafson says about the commemoration. "It brought tears to your eyes.”
A Memorial Day Parade committee member says that they hope to bring back the annual parade next year! They will soon be looking for volunteers to help plan next year's parade, and hopefully bring it back to South Bend better than ever.