MORRIS – "When I was in Vietnam in 1966 and '67 with the 4th Infantry Division, I was a very young naive doctor," observed Dr. John Roth Jr. at the Memorial Day ceremony Monday held on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn.
"I had three angels who watched over me. Their names were Art, Darryl and JR (Army pilots). Two of them are gone now, but one is still alive," he said. "These angels took me under their wings, and many times kept me out of harm's way. I probably would not be here today without their guidance."
Monday's celebration, sponsored by the John Martin Steele VFW Post 649, began with a parade which started at Chapin Park and concluded at the courthouse. At the end, those attending were invited to a lunch at the VFW.
Roth, a life member of the Morris VFW, provided a heartfelt keynote address.
"I want you to look at this day as a triangle," Roth said. "At the top of the triangle is God. The right arm is family and the left arm is country. That makes up two-thirds of the triangle. At the base of the triangle are our veterans. The center represents the ultimate sacrifice of those veterans who gave their lives for their family and country."
"At the base of the triangle, in the middle, surrounded by their peers, is a hallowed place reserved only for them. We'll call this place Memorial Day. All veterans in all wars have special feelings about those who didn't come home as we did. Sometimes I have guilt feelings regarding why I came and they did not. Maybe it is so I can be a voice for them and recognize them and their sacrifices, and share with all of you."
The posting of the colors was done by the Morris Color Guard and Jerry Terando. The Star Spangled Banner was performed by the Morris Marching Redskins under the direction of their band director Don Stinson.
The invocation was delivered by the Rev. Edward Howe, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church. Welcoming everyone was Jerry Belt, the Morris VFW Post 6049 Commander. Providing greeting speeches were Ken Buck, Commander of the American Legion Post 294 and Superintendent of Grundy County Veterans' Assistance Commission, and Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan.
Terando then read remarks from State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, who was unable to attend because Congress is in session. Morris resident and veteran Elmo Ray Younger also added reflections.
"Please remember this thought," Roth said. "If you see an eagle or the flag and the wind is on high, remember that the soaring of the eagles and the flutter of the flags is the spirit of past generations echoing to us our responsibility to our present soldiers and future generations."
"Over the years, when I would get up in the middle of the night to deliver a baby, I would look at my flag and it would be waving. I would get a warm feeling in my heart and think that it might be a spirit of a past veteran telling me to do a good job."