MISSOULA – For the 93rd year, Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremonies were held across Missoula in honor of our nation’s fallen veterans.
Montana has a special connection with Memorial Day because of the large amount of veterans per-capita in Big Sky country, a statistic reiterated in a statement at Monday’s ceremonies
“Here in Montana we have a rich legacy of service. In virtually every conflict Montana is the leading state in service members per-capita and thousands of Montanans have laid down their lives,” Western Montana Field rep Danielle Tribble said on behalf of Sen. Steve Daines. “It is their sacrifice that allows us to live in peace and freedom and it is imperative each of us honor and never forget.”
Wreath-laying events were spread across Missoula and vets say it really shows the amount of care Western Montanans show towards its armed service members.
“Pretty much its ceremonies at various locations to do just that, to give the public and us a chance to show or honor to our veterans and to the ones that have gone before us. So it’s this ceremony and it’s the congregating with others with like spirit,” said Bob Parcell, who served as a Sergeant and Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I thinks that it shows the depth of the patriotism in Western Montana. This is a big day and this is a community that comes out to support our veterans and their families and I’m proud to be part of that every year,” said retired Army Colonel Sam Millett.
This Memorial Day also celebrated the this year’s upcoming 75th anniversary of the D-Day assault in Normandy on June 6, and to help commemorate that moment one WWII vet was on hand to help lay a wreath.
“When did you join the army in WWII?”
“1945,” said WWII and Korean War veteran Elmer Hoch.
“What was your first stop over in the Pacific?”
“Yokohama Bay. I was there right after they dropped the bomb.”
“What does Memorial Day mean to you?”
“Well it’s more or less going back to meet my friends that I lost over there,” Hoch said.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News