The cloudy, rainy Monday dawn gave way to a warm, sunny morning suited for a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Calhoun Cemetery.
Larry Kusek, commander of Fort Atkinson American Legion Post 348, addressed the positive weather change to a sizable crowd standing there to remember their loved ones and military veterans buried in the cemetery.
The crowd placed flowers, wreaths, crosses or other remembrance artifacts on or near headstones throughout the grounds before standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem.
U.S., Nebraska and military branch flags fluttered in a breeze as Abiding Faith Baptist Church Pastor Chris Eastman and Fr. Stephen Gutgsell of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church stood behind crosses signifying American wars and the names of those buried in the cemetery who served in them, leading those in attendance in prayer.
Fort Calhoun Legion Auxiliary junior members Macie and Ellie Collins covered a chair observing prisoners of war and those missing in action and placed a memorial wreath next to it.
Keynote speaker, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Julie (Burmeister) Emmons, a Fort Calhoun High School graduate, echoed many Legion members and veterans who spoke before her.
Emmons, who served multiple deployments in the 2000s, relayed stories about soldiers who risked, and gave, their lives serving their country. She spoke of American unity regardless of race, gender or any other personal characteristic and the military’s relationship with that unity.
Memorial Day, she said, has been a day throughout many years to remember those who gave their lives to uphold the ideals of their country.
"Today, in this place, we do that again," she said.