Patriot Day a special one in Wakarusa
WAKARUSA — A magnificent display of nature’s beauty and bounty was illustrated last week, when Wakarusa’s Memorial Park was framed by a backdrop of deep blue sky, wispy white clouds, and a halo of sunlight. It was a tranquil, glorious setting that was quite appropriate to pay tribute to the families and friends forever changed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor those who carry out the noble task of protecting our freedoms and our lives.
This year’s Patriot Day Ceremony was coordinated through the efforts of the Wakarusa Cub Scout Pack #704, along with the New Paris Boy Scout Troop #12. The observance began with the posting of colors by the Wakarusa 2nd Year Webelos, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Pack #704 Tiger Den. Wakarusa resident Steve Hunsberger next sang a soulful, inspiring rendition of the National Anthem, while his wife, Ronda, and a visibly moved audience listened. The Hunsbergers lost their son, Army Staff Sgt. Travis Hunsberger in Afghanistan back in 2008, and to hear Steve’s interpretation of the song, it was very evident to those witnessing that the lyrics carry a special significance for his family and for others who harbor a deep respect for the nation’s armed forces.
Ted Wilson, pastor of the Wakarusa Missionary Church, offered a prayer, and then Pack #704 Chairman Sarah Wiseman took to the podium to share personal memories from Sept. 11, 2001, including the revelation that she had learned of her pregnancy the night before. While she worried about the world her child would be born into, she also expressed pride at seeing people rise above their sorrow and fear and come together in demonstrations of national support and solidarity.
Wiseman’s husband, Rob, the Cubmaster for Pack #704, also reflected on the true meaning of heroism and how we should be thankful for those who have given, and continue to give, of themselves, so that our country can be a safer place.
Steve Blosser, Pack #704 Assistant CM, introduced several guests of distinction, including four soldiers representing the United States Navy, Army, Marines, and the Air Force, all of whom were splendidly dressed in full, decorated military apparel. Also lauded were members of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, the Wakarusa Police, Fire, and EMT departments, and several military families. All of those receiving recognition were brought before the podium to receive plaques acknowledging their times of service.
Jackie Walorski, regionally known for her tenure in the State House of Representatives, and currently vying for a Congressional seat, was a featured speaker. She was working as a missionary during the Sept. 11 attacks, and she recalled the thoughts that raced through her mind as she listened to broadcasts of what was happening in America. Eventually, she said, her feelings of anxiety and confusion subsided, to later be overcome by a sense of reverence for the countless first responders and acts of selfless bravery.
“We salute your courageousness,” Walorski said. “We are forever grateful for your service and for all you do to protect our communities. We are also forever indebted to you for your fearlessness and for the sacrifices you make for our nation.”
The setting sun provided a serene atmosphere for the final moments of the ceremony, which included closing remarks of reflection and remembrance by Wakarusa Missionary Church pastor Ted Wilson. Members of the Nappanee American Legion Post #154 presented a 21 gun salute, with the last echoing sounds of the night provided courtesy of WBBC pastor David Harper playing “Taps.”