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‘Freedom isn’t free’: Memorial Day ceremony held at Bemidji’s Greenwood Cemetery

Members of Ralph Gracie American Legion Post No. 14 gathered with the community for a Memorial Day service at Greenwood Cemetery on Monday to honor the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.

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Members of Ralph Gracie American Legion Post No. 14 and junior ROTC members from Bemidji High School prepare for a Memorial Day service at Greenwood Cemetery on Monday, May 30, 2022, to honor fallen soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Members of Ralph Gracie American Legion Post No. 14 gathered with the community for a Memorial Day service at Greenwood Cemetery on Monday to honor fallen soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country.

“We humbly remember our fallen comrades, this Memorial Day and every day,” Commander Joe Vene said in the opening, after leading the crowd of about 100 in the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Auxiliary President Stella Wakonabo then thanked the community for its support in remembering local veterans.

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Auxiliary President Stella Wakonabo speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“We are here remembering the fallen. We gather here to give back to those who fought for our country, but they paid the ultimate price,” Wakonabo said. “They go to war, they see the enemy in their eyes and when they come home, they have to live with that fear.”

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Members of the American Legion Color Guard march toward the G.A.R. Memorial to honor those who died during the Civil War during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Guest speaker and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mike Herbert took the podium to address the sacrifice of service, not only for the soldiers but their families, friends and community. He also gave the people in attendance advice on how to honor the fallen moving forward after today.

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Guest speaker and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mike Herbert speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“This is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom,” Herbert said. “Share their stories, don’t let the stories of their sacrifice, duty and honor fade away and always remember that freedom isn’t free.”

Following the posting of the colors by members of the American Legion Color Guard along with a rifle salute, Wakonabo and Vene read off the names of Post No. 14 Legion and Auxiliary members who have passed away in the last year.

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Joe Vene and Stella Wakonabo place wreaths for the fallen during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Junior ROTC members from Bemidji High School post the colors in front of the G.A.R. Memorial to honor those who died during the Civil War during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

To wrap up the program the crowd made their way to the G.A.R. Memorial to honor those who died during the Civil War while Commander Steve Jewett recited the Gettysburg Address, followed by the playing of “Taps.”

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Steve Jewett recites the Gettysburg Address in front of the G.A.R. Memorial to honor those who died during the Civil War during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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American Legion Color Guard member Denis Berube hugs his grandchildren at a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Veteran Randy Hanevole salutes the flag for the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Members of the American Legion Color Guard salute the flag for the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country during a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: MEMORIAL DAYVETERANS
Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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