Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day
"Freedom is not free," Rev. Robert Bernard Jr. reminded attendees at a Memorial Day service Monday morning at the Wadena Cemetery.
Bernard, the pastor at Eagle Bend Assembly of God and Vietnam War veteran, talked about those who were sacrificed in the line of duty.
"These people who have died were not just a statistic," he said. "They are real people, with real families."
All veterans deserve respect and to be honored for their commitment, Bernard added.
His father, Robert Sr., was a World War II veteran who served as a second line medic in the South Pacific.
"He taught me patriotism and a love for my country," Bernard said.
He talked about Memorial Day and reminded people to never lose the focus of remembering the fallen. Those who have lost someone to war are constantly reminded with an empty seat at the dinner table or the quietness in the house, Bernard added.
"We owe it to the heroes who died to honor them," he said.
Bernard was raised in the Twin Cities area and graduated from high school in 1970. He joined the U.S. Navy and served for four years. He served on the USS John F. Kennedy carrier.
After his service, Bernard prepared for the ministry and has been a practicing pastor since 1979. He has served as pastor at many congregations in several midwestern states and has been in Eagle Bend for five years.
The Wadena Community Band performed musical selections during the service, which concluded with Taps and a firing squad salute.
Later in the morning, members of the VFW Post 3922 Color Guard and Auxiliary had a program to honor the servicemen and women who died at sea. Flowers were tossed in the creek, followed by a second firing squad salute.