‘A symbol of liberty for the next generation’: Community reflects on fallen heroes’ sacrifice

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – America is the home of the free, but that freedom came with a cost, and it was the soldiers who paid the ultimate price. To honor the fallen heroes who paid the debt, Indiana Freedom Coalition hosted a Memorial Day picnic.

“It’s not just another holiday, it’s not just another long weekend, it’s not a day to keep cool,” said Air Force Veteran Emery McClendon.  “It’s a day where we should be thankful that our freedoms were protected and guarded by those who served and those who gave their lives.”

“I’m 23-years old and I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for our fallen heroes that sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor,” said Nathaniel Mervar. “I think about those kids [who were actually my age], on D-Day stormed those beaches and died so that I can be here and enjoy my liberty and freedoms. It’s very humbling to realize that they paid the ultimate price so I can enjoy freedom here in America.”

Hundreds of people gathered at Foster Park’s pavilion. The event featured food, speakers, family friendly activities and a silent auction.

Andrew Horning is a constitutional advocate and one of the guest speakers for the event. He said he believes that many of America’s wars have disastrous when it comes to liberty and justice for all.

“I would think on a day like today, when we are honoring the losses of those who died in battle, that we would want to bring them home. Make these losses stop. It’s one thing to honor their death, but it’s another thing to make it stop and that’s really what I like to see happen,” Horning said.

12-year-old Logan Hammond was one of the many in attendance. He told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that he has a sense of pride knowing that people around his age hid their real age to fight in the Revolutionary War.

“It’s a celebration of the people who fell for our freedom, but also the people who are a symbol of liberty to the next generation to fight for their liberty,” said Hammond.  “Like President Ronald Regan said, ‘Liberty is only one generation from extinction.’ Those people showed that they fought for our country and are an inspiration for the next generation.”

Nine-year-old Jayson Forsberg agreed that Memorial Day is a celebration. He had an uncle who died in combat and uses this Memorial Day to remember his sacrifice.

“It’s like a bittersweet feeling, I am happy he fought for our country, but it’s sad because I never got to meet him,” said Forsberg.

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