Memorial Day Ceremony held at Cataract cemetery Monroe County Board President speaks


Mid-morning on Memorial Day, people of all ages were filtering into the Cataract Cemetery for a ceremony that honors the fallen of America’s military. It was a time for remembering, a moment for honoring, and through prayer and song, thanking those whose blood soaked into the soils of unfamiliar lands, drawing their finals breaths as they gazed skyward, in the name of freedom, all for a proud and gracious country — the United States of America.

The heroic efforts of America’s men and women, who were dropped into the chaos of a relentless breach of hope during those war campaigns — which were waged on foreign shores and raged in distant lands, now drew the somber attention of grateful hearts.

Echoing throughout the United States, on Memorial Day, were expressions of thanks, via speeches, songs and prayers, held in the small villages and towns, like the many that speckle the terrain of Monroe County. These small towns and villages lost favorite sons and daughters. They attended funerals with broken hearts, hugging and gripping the grieving, in their best efforts to squeeze out the pain that had saturated soul-deep in the community. Memorial Day is the continuation of remembering and honoring those awful days, in hopes that the dead will receive the full breadth of our thanks, which runs deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The Cataract Cemetery honor 

The opening prayer was led by Pastor Jonathon Unverzagt, of Christ is Lord Lutheran Church, in Onalaska. Pastor Jonathon spoke of those who had given their lives for our country, as well as those who are still protecting it — that God may watch over them and their families. “We are humbled by their willingness to put their lives aside for the benefits of others. We thank you for bringing us together, at this Memorial Day celebration, to acknowledge the debt we owe to the men and women of the United States Military, who have guarded this country with their lives.”

After Pastor Jonathon was done, the crowd was asked to rise and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterwards, Maria Higgins, former US Navy Band member, walked to the front of the crowd. Maria is the conductor for The Coulee Region Homeschool Choir. Just over a dozen children, aged 6 to 17, led the attendees in the National Anthem. Besides the days event, The Coulee Region Homeschool Choir has performed at the Police Appreciation Ceremony, for the past few years, in Sparta. Anyone interested in having the group perform, can contact Maria, at 608-865-0109. 

Caroline Stuessel followed the National Anthem, by reciting a poem, honoring the fallen; with wisps of what their lives meant to their families and friends. Stuessel had a humble stoicism that paralleled the demeanor of Monroe County residents, which rang strong and true for all in attendance.

Monroe County Board President, Cedric Schnitzler, was the next speaker to the podium. Through a barrage of bird bantering, Schnitzler spoke of the fallen as generational heroes. “They are no longer with us,” Schnitzler stated. “They all believed in serving without question; sacrifice with honor; and duty without compromise.” He continued on by mentioning Mount Hope, Saint Mary’s Ridge and the rest of Monroe County, as the final resting place for so many, who served a country that they would never step foot in again — a country that they served and loved so dearly.

Schnitzler spoke to the burden of responsibility that we all must carry, for the fallen. “We are to represent the voices and the stories for those who are no longer able to speak. They did their duty, they served with honor, and yes, they sacrificed for us, as generational heroes.”

Cedric reminded the attendees that those we honor had left their families, farms, business, and the safety of their homes, for a greater worth … American freedom. Schnitzler wrapped up the address, by mentioning the voices that had been silenced by war. “We will not hear the silent voices that scaled the walls of Normandy: the voices that raised the flag of Iwo Jima; the silent voices that fought for the 38th parallel, or the silent voices that battled in the jungles of Vietnam or perished on an outpost in Afghanistan. Over the silent voice of the marked graves, are whispered words so true — ‘On behalf of a grateful nation.’”

Following Schnitzler’s speech, the Melrose American Legion Post 439 Neil S. Lewison honor guard fired off the symbolic three-round-volley. The original history of the three-round volley comes from the Roman era. At the end of the day of fighting, when the field of battle was cleared, if the soldier removing the slain soldier knew the name of the soldier, then they would call his name three times into the night, as a form of remembering their sacrifice. After the volley, TAPS was played, and the ceremony was concluded.

Benny Mailman, Finding 42, Memorial Day, Monroe County, Cataract, Cedric Schnitzler, Monroe County Herald


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