On Memorial Day, Kyle Fisher will remember Terry Ball, his best friend while serving together in the U.S. Marine Corps. Ball was killed during an IED explosion in Iraq in 2005. Fisher, post commander for Fishers American Legion Lowell Beaver Post 470, said Ball saved his fellow Marines by jumping onto the IED.
Although Fisher and his fellow veterans understand the significance and meaning of Memorial Day, others across the city and the nation may not be as aware that it is a solemn time to remember the sacrifices of the fallen.
“I think when 9/11 happened, Memorial Day became just like any other day to celebrate every veteran,” Fisher said. “That’s not bad, but I think people who didn’t serve think it’s a time where every veteran should be celebrated, and I don’t think that’s the case myself. Memorial Day is about those who gave all, who died sacrificing their lives for this country. I don’t think people mean to disrespect, but the true meaning of Memorial Day has gotten away from what people think.”
One specific memory Fisher has is that after Ball was killed, Ball’s wife Jennifer asked Fisher to take Ball’s 10-year-old son to the store to pick up a jungle gym that the family had ordered.
“A story I always think about is after he passed away, Jennifer asked if I could take Gavin, his oldest son, to the store because they bought a jungle gym set for the backyard, and she asked if I could go pick it up for him,” Fisher said. “I had Gavin in the truck and he said, ‘You know, my dad’s a superhero, right?’ And I said, ‘He sure was.’”
Post Chaplain Charles Warren remembers that when he was growing up, there was always a parade on Memorial Day that would end at a cemetery, where Warren, his mother and his sister would decorate graves of their family members. Warren spent 30 years in the U.S. Army.
“Every Memorial Day growing up, we would go to the parade,” Warren said. “My dad was a World War II vet, so my mom would take me and my sister to the parade and then go to the cemetery.”
One reason Post First Vice Commander Dan Jacobs thinks the significance of Memorial Day is lost on much of the general public is because of the lack of celebrations on the day itself, which is May 28.
“I see a lot of what’s happening now is the government and other entities,” Jacobs said. “I don’t know if they feel obligated to do something on Memorial Day or they don’t want to be bothered on Memorial Day, but they hold celebrations the week before. That’s what (government) has gotten away from. In the past, Memorial Day was actually observed on Memorial Day.”
A group called the American Legion Riders from Post 470 ride motorcycles and place small flags on the Fishers graves of those who lost their lives while on active duty. The post then hosts a lunch for its members on Memorial Day, reads the names of the Legion members who died the previous year and observe a moment of silence.
“We just gather, and it’s a day of remembrance,” Fisher said.
Starting at a young age
American Legion Lowell Beaver Post 470 Chaplain Charles Warren said one way adults can learn to celebrate Memorial Day correctly is by getting involved early. The post sponsors Boy Scout Troop 303, which performs flag-burning ceremonies at the post.
“It’s cool because those young men get the feeling and get an idea of how important the flag is to the country and carry that through the rest of their lives,” Warren said.
The city celebrates Memorial Day
The City of Fishers will hold a Memorial Day celebration at 10 a.m. May 28 at the Liberty Plaza at Central Green on 116th Street and Municipal Drive. The ceremony is free and open to the public.