Giese shares legacy of those fallen in service (with video)
More than a million U.S. heroes had their lives cut short while fighting in wars since the American Revolution, and Morris mayor Sheldon Giese thanked those participating in the Memorial Day program in Morris for being part of part of their legacy.
Giese said the that the Americans gathered for this day of rememberance are the legacy of the young men and women who lost their lives in order to make the freedom of others possible. "The heroes that we remember today are not exclusive to any gender, race or religion. They are a diverse group wedded to the common principle that America is a nation worth dying for."
Giese shared the stories of WWI pilot Frank Luke, who was shot down over France in September of 1918. He was the first pilot to receive the Medal of Honor. Giese also talked about Sharon Lane, who was the only female nurse to be killed by enemy fire during the Vietnam War. And he recounted the story of the four Marines who were killed in a helicopter crash last month during a training exercise in Southern California.
Giese also shared the thoughts and memories of his son Joshua, from his deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Morris National Guard Unit in 2004. On Feb. 21, 2005, Josh Giese said the worst memory of his experience in Iraq was created. Three soldiers in Giese's unit, 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, Staff Sgt. David Day and Sgt. Jesse Lhotka, were killed and two others were seriously wounded.
The younger Giese told his father that it was the lack of black and white conflict that stays with him.
"On the way 'home' from losing our guys, quietly crying because I already could feel that we were missing my mentor in the military, David Day, we passed a young Iraqi boy with who I could assume was his grandpa on the road, the old man sitting against a building and the boy standing watching our convoy in pure awe. I will never forget, the grandpa urged the little boy to run to the edge of the sidewalk and give us the universal hand signal for peace. Two little fingers making a Y, a smiling boy, and his mentor teaching him what it means to be free to choose his own path. In that moment I realized that while we had lost someone dear to me, and there was always a chance to lose so much more, we were giving something to the people who wanted it, and I could no longer blindly have aggression towards that region. I could not accept hatred towards the people as a whole, even as I also realized that my enemy was somewhere in their numbers, waiting for an opportunity to act against us in the most violent of manners. There was no black and white. There was no uniform to show me who the bad guy was. There was only gray, everything all mixed into one. That was the most terrifying experience for me, was knowing that while I knew there were those that meant to do us harm, they blended effortlessly with those we were trying to protect and give freedom to."
Josh Giese currently lives in South St. Paul.
Following the program at the Armory, a service was held at the Veterans Memorial.