International Memorial Day Services
This is one of the few services held in the United States and Canada with the significance of this one taking into consideration its longevity, 66 years, and the International flavor that surrounds it.
For 65 years we have held the same “Flag exchange ceremony” on the border 2 miles north of Sherwood and this year will be the 66th. We will start gathering at the border at 9:45 am (CDT) with the ceremonies to start at 10:00 am sharp. A program will follow at 11:00 am in the Sherwood High School Auditorium.
The theme of this year’s service will center on the War in Iraq and the sacrifice of our young men and women who have again been called to serve their country in time of strife.
A parade follows down main street with a stop at the “Sherwood Firemen’s Memorial” to lay a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives in the Oil Fire in Sept of 1991. Buses then take the troops to the Sherwood Union Cemetery for a short program there to decorate the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” and saluting the dead.
We will then adjourn to the Memorial Hall where refreshments will be served to the participants; lunch will follow.
The Bag Pipes from Brandon, Manitoba will again be piping the troops across
the border, into the hall, down the street and into the cemetery. Can’t
you just hear them playing “Amazing Grace?” I can. You are all invited
to come see and hear this unique service.
The 66th Annual International Memorial Day Service will be held in Sherwood on Monday May 26, 2003 beginning at 10:15 am with the exchanging of the Colors and welcoming of our Canadian Comrades and friends at the International Border 2 miles north of Sherwood. After the Border ceremony the troops and crowd will retire to the gym at Sherwood High for the program.
Capt Matt Breden, 5OSS/A-6 Flight Commander, a B52 Bombardier, will be the guest speaker at the 66th Annual International Memorial Day services to be held in Sherwood on Monday May 26th 2003. Capt Breden flew 2 mission over Iraqi and 10 missions over Afghanistan on his latest tour of duty overseas.
Following the program there will be a parade down Main Street with a stop at the Firemen’s Memorial to lay a Wreath in memory of our fallen firemen, then onto the Union Cemetery to decorate the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Saluting of the Dead. After the ceremony at the Cemetery a lunch will be served at the Memorial hall and baseball games will follow in the afternoon and evening.
This special International Memorial Day service began 66 years ago by accident. Jack Burton, Canadian Customs Officer, invited George Knutson, US Customs Office to come with him to Carnduff SK. for Armistice services on Nov 11, 1937. When it came time to march in the parade all they had to march to was a set of bagpipes. Mr. Knutson didn’t think this was much and stated so. Mr. Burton urged him to come march and see for himself, well need less to say Mr. Knutson was quite impressed as all who have ever marched behind a set of bagpipes will attest to. He told the bagpiper so and extended an invitation to the Scottish Gentlemen to come to Sherwood on Memorial Day 1938 and lead our parade. He also extended the same invitation to the Carnduff Branch of the Canadian Legion. Thus started the International Memorial Day service and that handshake and exchange of flags has continued all these 66 years.
Over the years there have many exciting things happen on this wonderful day.
Three years ago was probably the most dramatic with Paul Murphy, chairman of
the Survivors of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis telling of how he rescued
another North Dakota boy Ralph Dewing from sure death in the dark shark infested
waters of the South Pacific. This year we will be using the theme used for the
50th Anniversary of The Korean War Commemorative Community Program and will
be explained in the next article on Our 66th International Memorial Day Services.
As in the past we have had a special theme for each program, 3 years ago it was the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the 5 days at sea for 880 sailors being ate alive by sharks and drowning. Two years ago we recognized the POW/MIA program and remembered the many men who never returned only to be held either as a prisoner in some foreign land or just listed as missing in action. Last year it was the special occasion of 50 years since the beginning of the Korean War and this time period will continue until Veterans Day 2003.
This year we want to pay special attention to what has gone on in Iraqi the
past few months. Some of our young men and women have given their lives and
some were POW’s for period of time. We want to pay special tribute to
them for the sacrifices they’ve made so others could live in a free land.
Freedom is not free as we’ve learned from past experiences.
Since the beginning of the International Memorial Day services in Sherwood in the 1938 we have had some Memorial Moments.
The first 14 years the program was held in the “Old gym” in the Sherwood High School. We then built the Memorial Hall down town in 1951 and the services were held there for the next 22 or 23 years. After the new school gym was built we have held the program there for the last 30 years or so. With the new gym floor and bleachers it makes a perfect setting for this ceremony. We are very happy to be able to use the school facilitates and have their complete cooperation.
During WW II the services were symbolic, what with the War taking place all over the World, no International border was safe to cross or live near.
Here was one between two countries that had no guards, just check points to stop at and declare your goods and then be on your way. The International Peace Garden says it all in that we will never take up arms against each other and here we are shaking hands across this border for the 66th time.
In 1957, the Drum & Bugle Corp and Rifle troop from Camp Shilo, Manitoba accepted our invitation to come and participate. That was the first time foreign troops had crossed our borders with their weapons. That invitation went through a lot of channels before it was approved. Our own Gov. Davis was the guest speaker that year and was one of the largest crowds ever to attend this event. It was estimated by the Canadian press that over 1500 people attended.
The services in 1998 were considered one of the most dramatic, as the theme was the sinking of the Indianapolis during the last days of WW II in the South Pacific and the subsequent loss of life that followed. A Sherwood boy, Glen Peterson, was one of those who lost his life in that tragedy.
As we think of this Memorial Day and what it means to each one of us lets remember
that this holiday represents more than the mere opening date of the neighborhood
Memorial Day signifies all the valor, consequence and memory of the sacrifices made by countless men and women who have served our nation. It is a focal Point for Americans to recall and recommit to the enduring values of service to the community, whether that community is local, national or even global.
On Monday, Memorial Day, wouldn’t it be fitting and appropriate if Americans
all around the world stopped for one minute at 3 p.m. local time in order to
reflect on the sacrifices made by others for our nation. This would be called
the ‘National Moment of Remembrance”.
These are just a few of the high lights of this special event and we invite you all to come take part as we remember these young people who gave their lives that we might live in this free land.