VIRGINIA CITY – As people paid tribute to friends and family members this Memorial Day across southwest Montana, more than two dozen members of the community gathered at the Virginia City cemetery for the dedication of a new Veteran’s Memorial.
The memorial consists of a series of flagpoles that were recently installed along the eastern boundary of the cemetery. Each pole carries the flag of a different branch of United States military service, including both the U.S. flag and the Montana state flag.
Following a brief dedication by county commissioner Dan Happel, more than 20 U.S. veterans from Virginia City and surrounding areas were recognized for their service.
“We’re here today to dedicate this memorial to the military veterans who have faithfully served our nation, state and our community,” Happel said. “Our nation was forged on the ideals of freedom, and maintained with the blood of those who cherish liberty and the American Dream enough to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect it.”
“Thankfully there have always been those who felt it was their duty to serve, protect and defend our nation and way of life against the enemies of freedom,” he said.
Virginia City resident Evalyn Johnson lobbied with the Virginia City Elks Lodge and Madison County commissioners for their support of the project, and prior to the dedication Johnson also thanked several other members of the community for their support.
“I think we really needed to have something like this,” Johnson said of the memorial. “Without all these special people it would not have been possible to make this memorial a reality. All this was done for the veterans of the past, the present and the future.”
Although the day was marked by intermittent clouds and scattered rain showers, those in attendance greeted one another with warm smiles of gratitude. And while an air of solemn reverence hung about the Virginia City cemetery on Monday, Happel captured the spirit of the Veteran’s Memorial with his dedication speech.
“God bless the honored veterans who are buried here in this hallowed ground, and God bless those dedicated individuals in our armed forces who continue to serve our nation,” he said. “Without their sacrifice, we would not enjoy the many freedoms that we have today.”
“May we always honor their commitment to honor, duty and country with our unwavering support.”