Lincoln Cemetery service filled with patriotism, gratitude

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A Memorial Day tribute was held at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in suburban Elwood, where more than 17,000 men and women from all branches of service are buried there. (WLS)

A Memorial Day tribute was held at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in suburban Elwood, where more than 17,000 men and women from all branches of service are buried there.

The service was filled with plenty of patriotism and gratitude.

Coal City grade schoolers sing "For the Good of the Many, So Give the Few." Around them at the Abe Lincoln National Cemetery are the few who, in reality, are many.

Sangmeister - Korea. Kvech - Vietnam. Sanders - World War II. Joshua Harris - Taken by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan six years ago. He was 21.

"He was a guy who could always make you smile when times were tough," said friend and fellow National Guardsman James Fluechtling. "He'd always find a way with singing or telling jokes. He was a great guy."

Fluechtling was in Sgt Josh Harris' unit, and he came Monday with wife Ashley and son Joshua to pay tribute to his buddy. In the same row at Lincoln Cemetery rests Shawn Pahnke, one of this area's first casualties in Iraq 2003.

"Actually, he was the first casualty of the First Armored Division in the war," Tom Pahnke said of his son.

His parents draw strength from ceremonies like Monday's. The hymns. Messages that thank and inspire. But for the Pahnke's every day is a Memorial Day.

"We do talk about Shawn and it does bring peace in our heart, but I lost my son, but you know what, they didn't break my spirit," said mother Linda Pahnke. "I will continue to go on because that's what Shawn would've wanted."

There are 36,000 buried there now. Some day that number will grow to 400,000.

Each has a story of service and sacrifice, in some cases the ultimate sacrifice, which a father will explain one day to his son when he's old enough to understand.

The reminder again from the mouths of grade schoolers, for the good of the many, so give the few.


Related Topics:
memorial dayveteransWorld War IIiraq warElwood
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