Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Arter will talk about his experiences and the meaning of Memorial Day when he serves as guest speaker for a Monday morning service at Fort Scott National Cemetery.
"It is about remembering those who have served and given their lives," Arter said, adding the day is also about giving "support for those who are serving now and those who will continue to serve."
Along with the highly decorated veteran's remarks, the occasion will include music, the traditional placing of the wreath, an honor volley and comments from other speakers. The ceremony is held to honor and pay tribute to all the American soldiers who have died defending their country during military service.
For the past seven years, Arter has served as civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Kansas. He is also a consultant and bank director and continues to be engaged in civic and philanthropic work. He and his wife, Lois, have lived in the Fort Leavenworth area since they retired.
Arter said Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, has special meaning for him.
"It's a privilege to have worn the uniform and served with soldiers, soldiers with whom I have served and who have served for me who have been killed in combat," he said.
Arter said there are two civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army in Kansas. He serves the eastern part of the state and remains "very active in ongoing military activities at Fort Leavenworth and elsewhere in the Kansas area."
The roots of the civilian aide position date back to World War I. Arter said he provides assistance in obtaining areas to train U.S. soldiers and provides the Secretary of the Army with an opportunity to have ongoing contact with area civic, business and education leaders.
Civilian aides help the secretary disseminate information to the public, Arter said.
The Secretary of the Army, currently John M. McHugh, is a senior civilian official within the U.S. Department of Defense who is responsible for all matters relating to the U.S. Army.
Arter said he has visited Fort Scott in the past but "has no professional ties" to the area.
"I've become acquainted with the area having been to Pitt State many times," he said.
Services begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday with a prayer in honor of all American war veterans on the steps of the Bourbon County Courthouse, 210 S. National Ave. The prayer will be led by the Rev. A.F. Collins of Independent Baptist Church.
Ceremonies at the Fort Scott National Cemetery will begin at 10:30 a.m. with welcome remarks from Richard Wheeler, cemetery technician. Leavenworth National Cemetery Director William Owensby Jr. is slated to provide comments on the cemetery.
The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Life Scout Dakota Lamb. Collins will give the invocation.
Local musicians James "Red" Stradley and Ralph Carlson will perform a musical rendition of the Gettysburg Address. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1165 Commander Lee Wright will recite General Logan Order No. 11, an order given in 1868 that officially proclaimed the first Memorial Day.
Following Arter's address, members of the American Legion Post No. 25 and Auxiliary will place the honorary wreath, followed by the benediction given by Collins and an honor volley presented by members of the V.F.W. Post No. 1165. Local trumpeter Jerry Witt will conclude the program with the playing of "Taps."
Refreshments will be available for attendees at the V.F.W. Post No. 1165, 1745 S. National Ave., following the service.
The ceremony is arranged under the auspices of the American Legion Post No. 25, the V.F.W. Post No. 1165, Disabled American Veterans and the Combat Infantrymen's Association. It takes place each year to honor and remember American soldiers who have died in conflicts throughout the world since 1775.
Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May since 1971.