Memorial Day observances deeply personal for many

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MILLCREEK — With bagpipes playing in the background, Tad and Liz Nielson visited Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park Monday to tidy up her relatives' gravesites, which is their custom each Memorial Day.

But it isn't just one day each year they visit the graves, Tad Nielson said.

"We come here often, pretty much most holidays," he said, clipping grass away from the grave markers of his wife's parents, Bonnie and Edward Chytraus.

The couple met as teenagers at East High School and were married 56 years until Edward's passing in 2011. They are buried side by side in a plot the couple purchased for $180.

"Well, that was many, many years ago," said Liz Nielson, their daughter.

The Nielsons are such regular visitors to the cemetery that they also tend the graves of a couple next to their family members. The man was a woodsman and "Tad is a carpenter," said Liz Nielson, explaining their kinship to the pair.

"His wife's name was Daisy and my mother's favorite flower was a daisy," she said.

Earlier in the day, the memorial park hosted a formal ceremony honoring veterans who died in service to their country, those who passed away in succeeding years and the veterans who survive them.

Among the veterans buried at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park is Julie McAdams' grandfather, William Woodrow Wilson.

McAdams, pinch-hitting for her husband Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, said both of their grandfathers were World War II veterans. The congressman was speaking at another Memorial Day observance conducted at the same time.

"Today we remember the heroes who, thankfully, answered duty's call. We pray for those who have passed on as well as for those who must keep going. We treasure the memories of soldiers who died too young as well as the living history of gray-haired warriors who are still with us," said McAdams, who serves in the general counsel's office at the University of Utah.

McAdams recalled the words of Gen. Douglas McArthur, who in a speech at West Point said, "The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

People visit the burial sites of their loved ones during Memorial Day at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 27, 2019. (Photo: Silas Walker, KSL)
People visit the burial sites of their loved ones during Memorial Day at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 27, 2019. (Photo: Silas Walker, KSL)

She added, "I know that in many Utah homes, especially those with Gold Stars, Purple Hearts, folded flags and last letters home, such prayers are fervently offered each and every day."

As Americans honor the sacrifices of veterans across the generations, "we remind ourselves and also our leaders to avoid mistakes that can lead to future generations being put in harm's way," McAdams said.

Cantor Wendy Elizabeth Bat-Sarah of Congregation Kol Ami offered the benediction. She thanked God for numerous blessings bestowed upon the United States.

"Out of the many nations of this world our county has been blessed with a singular opportunity to demonstrate how people of many faiths and heritages can live side by side and enrich one another's lives through friendship and sharing of our unique traditions," she said.

On the occasion of Memorial Day, "we are united this day in a solemn act of gratitude to those who have served in our nation's defense, to those who risked their personal safety to save the lives of others and above all, to those who have died serving this country.

"Their sacrifices are forever remembered by us and by our children for generations to come. We do not forget," Cantor Bat-Sarah said.


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