Excelsior Springs Pays Tribute to Fallen Heroes in Memorial Day Ceremony

R.E. Holtz performs a rendition of "Taps" bugle call composed by Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield during the American Civil War in 1862, which has since become a cherished and solemn melody played at military funerals and ceremonies to honor fallen soldiers.

The community of Excelsior Springs came together in a moving Memorial Day ceremony held at the memorial park near the American Legion/VFW Hall on Veteran’s Drive in downtown. Dozens of citizens along with service men and women attended the event, paying tribute to the brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States.

Memorial wreaths stand in solemn tribute, honoring the brave souls who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

The ceremony was led by former Missouri State Representative Bob Nance, who welcomed the crowd and introduced the current State Representative Doug Richey. In addition to his political career, Richey serves as a pastor at Pisgah Baptist Church and is a law enforcement chaplain for the Clay County Sheriff’s Department. He also brings eight years of service as a combat engineer in the Missouri Army National Guard.

A moment of silence as the wreaths were placed.

Representative Richey introduced the keynote speaker, Clay County Sheriff Will Akin, highlighting Akin’s impressive combined military and law enforcement career which spans nearly 30 years. Akin enlisted in the US Army in 1994, serving as a parachute rigger before becoming a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot and later served as a Non-Commissioned Officer and Chief Warrant Officer.

Rep. Richey addresses the crowd.

Sheriff Akin delivered a poignant speech, expressing gratitude for being selected as the guest speaker and reflecting on the significance of the day. He began by recounting his participation in the Murph Challenge, a workout named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who tragically lost his life in Afghanistan in 2005. Akin said that as he completed the demanding workout, he reflected on the contrast between his ability to endure it comfortably at home and the sacrifice of Lieutenant Murphy, who never had the chance to return home.

Will Akin reflects on his time in the service and the luxury of being able to "come home."

During the ceremony, wreaths of honor were placed on the memorials representing each branch of the armed services. The names and representatives placing the wreaths for each branch were as follows: Anna Utterimer for the Auxillary, Michael Sutko for the Army, Joyce Scroggins for the Navy, Rodney Holt for the Marines, Tom Cain for the Air Force, Renee Pingel for the Coast Guard, and Les Pingel for the Merchant Marines.

Les Pingle places the wreath for the Merchant Marines

The solemn occasion continued with a moment of reflection as attendees bowed their heads, honoring the fallen soldiers. A 21-gun salute echoed through the air, and the poignant notes of Taps filled the atmosphere, evoking a sense of deep reverence and gratitude.

Rep. Doug Richey and Sheriff Will Akin

Following the ceremony, citizens and veterans stood together, engaging in heartfelt conversations as they reminisced about their fallen friends and family members and their own time in the service. The occasion provided an opportunity for the community to connect and support one another in their shared commitment to never forget the sacrifices made by the nation’s heroes.

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