Fallen service members remembered at Bloomfield Veterans Cemeter - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Fallen service members remembered at Bloomfield Veterans Cemetery

John Lancaster, 16, of Bloomfield High School played Taps at the ceremony. John Lancaster, 16, of Bloomfield High School played Taps at the ceremony.
Mike Mowrer with the Missouri Veterans Commission was the keynote speaker. During the ceremony he reminded those who attended that freedom is not free. Mike Mowrer with the Missouri Veterans Commission was the keynote speaker. During the ceremony he reminded those who attended that freedom is not free.
BLOOMFIELD, MO (KFVS) - Hundreds attended a ceremony Monday for an annual Memorial Day program at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery in Bloomfield."It's really moving to see so many people here in spite of potentially nasty weather," said Honor Guard member and veteran Ricky McLean. "We are doing a better job of remember our Veterans and that makes us feel good and we want to see that carried on." 

Ken Swearengin, the cemetery director, said the ceremony is all about honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others.

"This is our best day, this is what we want to do," Swearengin said. "This is our chance to pay tribute to those who sacrificed since the beginning, since our revolution. And me, like most people, have some stake in this country based on our forefathers and the blood that they shed to make sure we have our freedoms.

Mike Mowrer with the Missouri Veterans Commission was the keynote speaker. During the ceremony he reminded those who attended that freedom is not free. 

"We must prevail," said Mowrer, "We must never forget those who never made it home and those who stand guard for our freedom today." 

Mowrer served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1974. During that time, he successfully completed the Army Ranger School, Battery Commander of an airmobile field artillery 155 firing battery in Vietnam, and three years as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at UMC. 

He also served from 1974 to 1980 in the active US Army Reserve as a medical service corps officer. 

Mowrer is a native of Unionville, Mo. but currently lives in Kennett, Mo. with his family.

Veterans say they were moved to see so many generations and veterans of various ages and branches participate. Among the youngest, 16-year-old John Lancaster of Bloomfield High School. He played Taps at the ceremony

"I have so many family members who served," Lancaster said. "It means so much to me to be able to play that symbolic song that hopefully causes people to reflect. I want people to know that without our veterans we would not have the freedoms we have today. Veterans, to me are the most important piece of this country." 

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established as a day for Americans to honor those who were killed during the Civil War. It was not until after World War I that Memorial Day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971 and was placed on the last Monday in May.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so we could live free," said Larry D. Kay, Executive Director of the Missouri Veterans Commission. "We encourage the public to attend and help honor those who served by not forgetting, by remembering what they did and what they stood for.” 

Boy Scouts, Honor Guard, Patriot Guard Riders, and the Bloomfield High School Band were among those who participated in the ceremony. 

Veterans from numerous wars and countless loved ones also attended. 

The ceremony in Bloomfield is one of five being held at state veterans cemeteries across the state.

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