Families passing Memorial Day’s message on to next generation
WCLO's Beth Wheelock reports on Janesville's Memorial Day ceremony.
JANESVILLE How do you get people to pay tribute to the fallen on Memorial Day? The answer may lie with parents.
Most people interviewed on the street at Janesville’s annual Memorial Day parade pointed to their families when asked why they were there.
“We started doing it with our children, and then we did it with our grandchildren,” said Mary Kubly of Janesville.
Mary was there with her husband, Dick, a Korean War veteran. Their tradition has stuck with three generations now: Their great-grandchildren were at the parade, too.
Nearly 1,000 people lined the parade route, and more than 400 attended the ceremony afterward at the veterans memorial at Traxler Park.
Norm Hanson of Janesville said he doesn’t miss a Memorial Day parade, but Monday was special. His son, Dan, marched in the parade as a member of the Janesville police color guard.
Bryan Schneider of Milwaukee, an Iraq veteran, came to the parade in his uniform to show respect, he said.
Schneider, who drills with the National Guard in Janesville, and his wife, April, brought their 2-year-old, Sebastion, and 3-month-old, Preston.
It was Preston’s first parade and Sebastion’s second.
“It’s important for them know what their dad does and what everybody else in the military does and what it means to support people who put their lives on the line,” April said.
Bryan is headed to Fort Benning, Ga., next month to become an active-duty soldier.
“My kids didn’t really know what Memorial Day was,” said Kim Gergets of Janesville.
So Gergets took her sons, Eddie, 10, and Matthew, 7, to the parade.
The boys told her they didn’t learn about it in school, Gergets said, although she suggested they might have forgotten what they were told.
Gergets said she had not lost anyone close to her in a war, but it was important to her that the boys learned about honoring those who served and those who died.
Russ Steeber, the featured speaker at the ceremony that followed the parade, is not the first to suggest that the day’s significance is getting lost in the store sales and joys of a three-day weekend.
“I fear that today, some of us have lost sight of the meaning of this day,” Steeber said.
But at least some are learning young what the day is about. Many children attended the parade and ceremony.
War should not be glorified, Steeber told the crowd, but sometimes it is justified.
“Please pray for peace, so in the future we will never have to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way again,” Steeber said.
Steeber, a Janesville City Council member and veteran, made reference to a recent controversy about the Janesville Patriotic Society’s plan to expand the memorial and to move other monuments there from the downtown.
The council rejected the plan, some saying it would interfere with other uses of the park, but invited the group to return with a revised plan.
Steeber said he didn’t want to be controversial, but “memorials such as this should not be relegated to a corner lot, unseen and forgotten.”
Tom Stehura of the Patriotic Society closed the ceremony by saying that veterans should be remembered every day, “and we should especially remember those who are currently serving us in foreign places. May God keep then safe and bring them home.”