By James Martin
Since its inception in 1865, Memorial Day has become increasingly synonymous with lakeside barbecues and red-tag sales events. People seem less and less inclined to use the day for its intended purpose – paying homage to those who gave their lives, insuring the freedom that made all the barbecues and sidewalk sales possible in the first place.
This Memorial Day, however, Orem is making sure everyone has ample opportunity to treat the holiday as it was intended to be treated. The Orem American Legion will host a Memorial Day program replete with patriotic speeches, a 21-gun salute and an Apache helicopter at the Orem City Cemetery.
“This will be something very special,” said Bert Gividen, vice commander of the Orem American Legion. “It”s a wonderful opportunity to remember and pay respect to the men and women who gave their lives for this country.”
Gividen said people will want to be there by 8:45 a.m. so they won”t miss the Apache helicopter landing.
According to a press release, the helicopter will approach the cemetery from the south side over the nearby soccer field and land in a grassy area away from the gravesites.
“It should be an impressive sight,” Gividen said. “The Apache is a huge craft.”
Layne S. Pace will pilot the aircraft and afterward serve as the keynote speaker. Pace is in the National Guard and served in Afghanistan as a task force pilot safety officer for a year, starting in April 2004.
Pace said his speech will focus on the positive things that were done in Afghanistan. He was heavily involved in humanitarian work while he was there and said that the Afghani people were overwhelmingly appreciative.
“Literally 100 percent of my experience confirmed that the people wanted us there,” Pace said. “Everywhere we went, kids were giving us thumbs-up signs and locals were thanking us for helping.”
In addition to the patriotic speech and the helicopter landing, there will be a short march by the American Legion Honor Guard, a flag ceremony, a 21-gun salute and remarks by Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn.
“Throughout history so many people have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and comfort,” Pace said. “So I don”t think it”s too much to ask for people to get out of bed a little earlier and come pay tribute to them.”