Kanab American Legion Post 69 had a busy and poignant day starting at the Fredonia Cemetery, and then moving to the Kanab Cemetery to honor Veterans past and present. Commander Terry Parthemore conducted these well-attended programs that finished with a 21-Gun Salute and ‘Taps.’

In Kanab, the prayers were offered by post member Chris Leonard and the National Anthem was sung by Bruce Davis. Hymns were provided by the Canyon Singers, with V Lee Barnett conducting and Ina May Tate accompanying.

Kanab Girls State representative Brooke Szymanski read the “Gettysburg Address.”

The featured speaker was Lt. Col. Brent Anderson of the Utah National Guard, who spoke about Memorial Day and the challenges that face our servicemen and their families.

He said, “Memorial Day is about honoring the heroes who are here only in spirit – to keep their memories alive. Citizens of this great nation cannot help but feel in awe by the enormity of sacrifices of these men and women. We merely need to feel the warmth of the sun of this beautiful day to remember them looking down on us, and what they gave to us.

“While those we honor today came from all walks of life, they shared fundamental qualities. They embodied courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and great personal integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

“I believe that those who have served in uniform before us were not there by chance. I also believe that those serving today are likewise not there by chance. But rather a calling that requires dedication and commitment. To fight for freedom takes a unique and chosen service member. Service members have always had strong values and traits that have defined their character. So many are generous, caring, selfless citizens who ask nothing in return. Their joy comes from simply doing the right thing and helping those in need.

“Part of those chosen who put on the uniform struggle with what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is real and something that service members have faced from the World Wars to Korea and Vietnam and through the current conflicts. Only recently have we given it a name. PTSD can affect service members in many different ways. Some service members come home from a deployment and receive the counseling they need and then continue with a productive life. Their life goes on after they’ve been able to work out their issues that have been challenging them from their experiences. Some service members come home only to realize that their mental health is not right and yet they do nothing. Those service members have issues and ill feelings that if left untreated will fester and grow. These are the service members that we need to search out and get them the help they need.”

Lt. Col. Anderson went on to discuss the stigma related to PTSD and needing help. Needing help is not a weakness. He told a moving story of a wounded soldier and his trials, both physical and mental, and the importance of getting the counseling and support necessary to go on and beat the stigma, which allowed him to help others who are fighting and seeking out help.

He said, “I have come to realize that PTSD is all around us and that there is more help than ever as long as we are willing to seek it out.

“We owe so much to our veterans both gone and surviving. Those that we honor this day are counting on us to stand ready in arms and in health. We need to help those that we can reach and help them break through this stigma of seeking help being a weakness. Let’s make sure they know it takes more courage to get the help than it does to let it pile up.”

Lt. Col. Anderson closed with a poem written by his daughter Ashlee, about those we honor on Memorial Day.

Thank you Post 69 and all who participated and attended. May God Bless America.