Story by Aimee Malone on 06/13/2019Fort McCoy community members gathered May 23, 2019, for the Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon at McCoy's Community Center.
The annual event is held in honor of service members who died while serving the nation. The event is organized by the Religious Support Office (RSO).
The guest speaker was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Rakow, chief of operations for the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade.
Rakow shared the history of Memorial Day. It began after the Civil War as Decoration Day, and people decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate Soldiers. After World War I, Memorial Day expanded to include those who had died in all war.
"Almost every Soldier I've known understood that their service might require the ultimate sacrifice, but they wanted to go home," Rakow said. "They wanted to live.
"But as strong as that desire was, they did not let that desire impede their actions or dampen their courage while in the circumstances that resulted in that sacrifice," he said.
While Memorial Day is important, Rakow said, the best way to honor that sacrifice is not with a yearly ceremony. "It's gratitude to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and living our lives with purpose and intent as a display of that gratitude."
Col. Hui Chae Kim, Fort McCoy garrison commander, added a special thank you to those who sacrificed and helped liberate South Korea. Kim's family emigrated from Korea when he was 3 years old. He then led the attendees in a moment of silence for those who had perished in all wars throughout history.
Chaplain (Maj.) Erik Spicer with the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade, and Chaplain (Capt.) Iheanyichukwu Sunday with the 649th Regional Support Group gave the benediction. Pastor Paul Frey, an InFaith missionary; Pastor Brian Young with Faith Evangelical Free Church in Sparta, Wis.; and Chaplain Jef Skinner with the Sparta, Wis., Police Department; led the group in prayers for service members, families, police, firefighters, leaders, and the nation.
Music was provided by Michelle Jones and included several songs.