Memorial Day offers time to reflect

Chad Hines, new commander of the 891st Engineer Battalion, spoke about sacrifice and what Memorial Day means to him at the Highland Cemetery in Iola.

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May 31, 2022 - 2:31 PM

The Moran American Legion Firing Squad stands at attention during Memorial Day Services at Highland Cemetery in Iola. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

As a child, Chad Hines first thought of Memorial Day as a time where he and his family would go to the lake, usually get rained on, and come home exhilarated, but muddy.

That perspective would change, first when watching old war movies with his father, who took time to explain the concept of service and sacrifice, and then finally, experiencing the shock and grief of losing a loved one.

“Shortly after the Iraq War took off, it became personal,” Hines said Monday.

It was in August 2004 when 2nd Lt. Michael Goins was killed in Iraq. Goins and Hines served together in Kansas State University’s ROTC program.

“He was killed by a gunman who climbed his tank and fired into his open hatch,” Hines recalled. “I still remember seeing his name and picture on the local news, and the feeling of shock and disbelief.

“It’s a sobering reality many of us face, and a reason to take time on this Memorial Day to reflect and remember those no longer with us,” Hines said.

Chad Hines speaks at the Iola Memorial Day commemoration. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Hines is the new commander of the 891st Engineer Battalion stationed in Iola.

Hines spoke of sacrifice, and of particular note to National Guardsmen, the support communities offer when a Guardsman is called to serve.

“It’s not just the families that sacrifice,” he said. ‘It’s the communities as well. They’re missing an employee, a coach, a church leader, a teacher, a mentor and a friend.”

Hines listed the 10 Guardsmen from Kansas who have died in service.

He also pointed to the visible signs of support in small communities, such as Iola. He recounted going out to lunch at El Charro a few weeks back, only to be informed by a waiter that an anonymous diner there paid for his meal. Or when he went out the next day to find a young girl in awe of the serviceman in her presence.

Hines took off his velcroed flag patch and gave it to the girl.

“You don’t often experience this kind of love and support,” Hines said. “Thank you for being the community you are.”

He asked the audience to carry on the legacy of soldiers who have died in service, and others who continue to serve.

Gene Gardner is the commander of the Moran American Legion Post. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

“Remember those who have made possible your tomorrows,” he said. 

Hines also recalled a quote from John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Monday’s service included the laying of wreaths by the Iola American Legion and Auxiliary and 40 Et 8 and Voiture members, the color guard provided by the Moran American Legion and LaHarpe VFW, the Moran American Legion firing squad, and the Iola Municipal Band, which played at the ceremony. Iola Municipal Band member Daniel Kays played “Taps” after the firing squad volleyed its 21 gun salute.

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