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American Legion’s Memorial Day event: remembering the past and looking to the next generation

The seats were full for the American Legion’s 2023 Memorial Day Event. It was a patriotic service, opened with prayers, the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and live musical performances from the Chris Paul Band and Mesozoic. Following the opening ceremonies and entertainment, the program entered a solemn presentation by the Legion’s Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Parthemore, who collaborated with Kane County Commissioner Patty Kubeja to honor all the comrades who had passed in the last two years. The list of 34 names honored fallen veterans from multiple branches of the US armed forces, all of whom were local - the event culminated with the assembly of a twenty-one-gun salute.

Left to right:

  • Fundraiser Jett Elliott (left) and Boys’ State Representative Dallin Corry (right.) Photo by Ty Gant.

  • American Legion Post 69 Commander Joe Lamica (Left,) Redrock Homes’ Mike Reed (Right) who helped organize Memorial Day activities, with Southern Utah News Correspondent Larry Sorenson (center). Photo by Ty Gant.

  • The American Legion Guard in position for the 21 Gun Salute. Photo courtesy of Commander Joseph Lamica.

The event’s organizers also took the opportunity to honor first responders. Redrock Homes’ Mike Reed and Stan Wiebel helped to organize the event and its associated fundraiser, with Mike saying, “We wanted to do something for the first responders too. Since COVID there’s been a lot of negative sentiment toward first responders like police, and we wanted to do something for them. There’s a lot of donated hours around here - between search and rescue and the fire department and the rest, there’s a lot of hours volunteered. We’ve done fundraisers like this one for those organizations, for places like the Childrens’ Justice Center, and we’re looking to see what we can do for our upcoming fundraiser too. It’s been good to have people come up and thank us for what we’re doing and thank our first responders - the key to all of this was to have our public recognize our first responders and veterans. We didn’t know the American Legion had a project coming up when they chose them, we chose them and let them decide where their funding goes - they chose the monument, and it’s pretty cool.”

The funds generated by the event and fundraiser are going toward plans for a monument honoring, in American Legion Commander Joe Lamica’s words, “veterans past, present and future - this is not a memorial only to the past, but a monument to those serving now and those who will serve … we’re hoping to make an entire park out of it as we expand. There’s the small display at the County office, but this community really needs a monument like this.” Reed adds, “It’d be really special - we’re proud of the members of our community who serve. We need something like this to honor them.”

Commander Lamica reiterated that the monument was not just a memorial to services past - but additionally, in honor of those who would offer future service. He featured two such members of the up-and-coming generation in conjunction with the plans for the monument, Jett Elliot and Dallin Corry.

Elliot is spearheading a fundraising effort at the Kanab Middle School for veterans who require dialysis; the project gathers the pop-tabs from soda cans for recycling, and each tab represents about one minute of dialysis treatment. Jett estimates the project has generated over three thousand pop-tabs - 50 hours worth of dialysis treatment funded, and counting! “I didn’t know how it went with dialysis or what kind of medical treatment they were for. All I knew is that gathering them was helping out somebody who needed it, so I asked the principal if I could do it,” says Elliot.

Lamica adds, “If there’s one thing I respect, it’s a kid taking initiative. This young gentleman saw what was happening at an event dinner, he asked about it, and when he figured what was going on, he started his own effort. He took that initiative, and he deserves to be recognized for it.” Jett is continuing to collect the tabs going forward, focusing his efforts on his peers at the middle school, as well as the staff and faculty.

The second young man featured in the American Legion’s program, Dallin Corry, is the Legion’s 2023 representative to Boys’ State. Says Lamica, “Usually we’d have a pizza party at the high school and talk about government, the constitution and leadership, and that’s how we’d nominate our Boys’ State reps.” Usually; as Lamica says, those sorts of activities have been slow to restart since COVID made them impractical. In Dallin Corry’s case however, such an outreach was unnecessary, as he made the effort to make it to Boys’ State himself, as Lamica continues, “We got a call from Dallin, he took the initiative, got in touch with us, and I was all in.”

The Boys’ State event is designed to teach youth about the legislative process, how the government functions and leadership skills. According to Corry, “I initially heard about Boys’ State from my uncle who went as a kid - it seemed like the right place to learn about government, how all that works, I’ve always been interested in that stuff. I’ve heard you can learn a lot of interesting things there and I can totally see using it in the future.”

With the plans for the monument in place, the Memorial Day Festivities wrapping up and the appropriate community servants honored, the American Legion looks forward to upcoming events like Independence Day festivities for future appearances and ceremonies.




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