All is well, safely restIt’s Saturday morning as I write this. I’ve just come from the dedication of the new Lake County Memorial Forest.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
It’s Saturday morning as I write this. I’ve just come from the dedication of the new Lake County Memorial Forest. There were about 70 people there, many from the Two Harbors High School class of 1962. They’re in town for their 50th reunion, but also because their efforts resulted in the restoration of the Memorial and its dedication at its new site on Sonju Trail.
At their 45th class reunion, they decided to take on the restoration project as a gift to the community. After years of fundraising and managing all the details, they were able to see their hard work realized. This gift will be part of their legacy and will stand to greet the sun rising over Lake Superior for generations to come.
The honor guard fired its rifles in salute, and the crowd was silent as “Taps” played. I clenched my jaw to keep from tearing up, but tears still slid down my cheeks as I thought about the soldiers whose lives were lost, and those whose lives were changed by battles fought throughout the years. Almost four dozen Lake County men have been killed in action, leaving behind friends and loved ones to grieve their loss. Others served and returned, but few without being altered in some way. They gave so much—some gave all-- for the ideals and country they loved.
Taps has been played for more than 100 years to mark the end of the day, but also at funerals and ceremonies of remembrance like this. The words are so poignant:
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
The U.S. is still at war and losses in battle continue. In addition, suicides among soldiers are on the rise. In June the Pentagon reported a 117 percent increase in the number of active-duty suicides over the previous month, for an average to 1.25 suicides per day since the beginning of 2012. These soldiers are fighting more than one enemy.
The dedication of the new Lake County Forest Memorial was lovely and I felt privileged to be there among the many community members who made it possible and the soldiers who served and returned to their home town. It was also bittersweet—an example of what can be accomplished when people come together with a common purpose, but a reminder of the terrible cost incurred when our differences as humans result in loss of lives.
Jon Anderson, a member of the Two Harbors Class of 1962, sent me an email with some information I needed to write the story about the dedication of the new memorial. Anderson refers to the practice of dedicating a tree (with an accompanying plaque and cross) to a fallen soldier. The final sentence rings in my head : “Lake County has currently had 46 citizens that have been killed in action in the armed services from WWI to present and we have a total of 51 planted white pines in the present site and hope we never have to use them all.”
I, too, hope they never do.