Local veterans organize Memorial Day ceremonies amid weather, pandemic

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – A gentle breeze after May showers carries the sound of Taps across the Sarcoxie square.

Played during a small ceremony for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In this time of social distancing, Memorial Day services around the area had to be cancelled or held virtually, but two local veterans wanted to make sure they did something in person, even if it was small.

“It’s a very very important day. It’s a very solemn day,” says Carthage resident and Navy Veteran Robert Denning.

Denning served in the Navy as a pilot for around four years, part of that time being spent in combat during the Korean War.

“Which always surprises everyone because they think, ‘My word, how old are you?’ And I say, old enough to have been able to say that,” says Denning.

Sarcoxie resident Keith Garber has been a government bugler for more than 50 years, serving several of those years with the Air Force.

“Part of the duty that I came up with in the military is doing honors for our fallen comrades. And today is our fallen comrade day,” says Garber.

The two have done ceremonies around the area for several years. So when this Memorial Day rolled around, they knew what they needed to do.

“As former veterans, it’s part of our make up. It’s just like who we are,” says Denning.

“It’s my duty and privilege to do this. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, so I will continue to do it, and it means a lot to me,” says Garber.

So the two put two short ceremonies together, one in Carthage and another in Sarcoxie so that residents could hear the sound of Taps and think about those fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“We want to put it in their hearts just to always be aware and be sensitive to those people who have served in the military, and who are currently serving now,” says Denning.

The two ceremonies also happened in conjunction with Taps across America, where buglers played Taps all around the nation to honor those who gave it all.