Helena Independent Record: Memorial Day event at Montana Veterans Cemetery honors the ultimate sacrifice

An empty seat at a dinner table or a little girl who won’t have her father walk her down the aisle on her wedding day are just two instances to think about on Memorial Day, Col. Jonathan Jackson said Sunday.

“These are painful memories of those who have given their all,” Jackson said to those gathered at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery. “Memorial Day is about coming together for those who gave it all.”

Riley Ehret, whose father was a three-tour Iraq War veteran, led the pledge of allegiance. After her father, Travis, was killed in a bar fight last summer, Ehret was given his Army Commendation Medal. She has since worn it everywhere, according to Denny Lenoir, Montana Army National Guard Honor Guard coordinator, so she was given a brand new medal on Sunday.

“She’s so proud of it, and we’re proud of her. She’s a special little girl,” Lenoir said.

Memorial Day also marks a time to honor those currently serving, he said.

“Freedom is not a gift. It’s an earned benefit,” Jackson added.

Sen. Jon Tester said he prays everyday for those serving.

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