Cars rushed past on busy State Street, seemingly oblivious to the still, thoughtful group gathered inside the cemetery gates to honor military officers past and present.
The Memorial Day service at the Provo City Cemetery not only honored veterans and soldiers, but was a call to those who will come to work hard and serve well.
James Mathis of the Provo City Veterans Council and former officer of the United States Air Force outlined the history of the celebration and urged the audience to remember.
“[Today] is a day set apart to honor the contributions of the 1.6 million dead U. S. soldiers who gave their last full measure of devotion to our country,” Mathis said. “Without their ultimate sacrifice, civilization as we know it would not have survived. This patriotic program is dedicated to our brave men and women in uniform — past and present — who left us a legacy of freedom and liberty.”
Veterans Council member Dr. David Fullmer gave his farewell performance as director of the Timpview High School band through several musical numbers honoring veterans from all branches of the military.
“We love using our musical talents to pay tribute to those who have done so much for us,” Fullmer said. “We need to remember those who are willing to take a bullet for us.”
Former BYU graduate and military intelligence officer, Jeremy Stevenson, was the keynote speaker. He emphasized that good leaders understand the principles of hard work and service. He credited his parents for teaching him how to serve diligently.
“It is the work ethic and my desire to serve others that my parents instilled in me, that have been the key to my success throughout my military career,” Stevenson said. “From the moment I entered basic training in 1997 to the end of my last deployment in 2011, these two characteristics shaped my military service.”
In Basic Training, Stevenson said he kept himself busy and out of trouble by helping others. Because of his readiness to go the extra mile, he became a trusted leader.
“I later found that because of my willingness to help other soldiers, those soldiers — regardless of how rough, ignorant or stubborn they were – were willing to follow me when I was put in charge of them,” Stevenson said.
Finally, Stevenson explained why he was willing to serve two tours in Iraq.
“When I joined the military, I made an oath that I would do my duty to serve whenever I was ordered to do so,” Stevenson said. “I did not choose the war or battle I was sent to, but I did choose the attitude I took.”