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This Memorial Day thousands of Bismarck and Mandan residents attended the area's observances to remember the sacrifices of our heroes and loved ones in the armed services.

Marsha Leier of Bismarck was paying respects to her father's grave, Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Schnabel, at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery on Monday. Her father was born in Logan County and served his nation in the Korean War as a supply sergeant of the third division 39th Artillery Battery C.

"I remember as a little girl growing up, my father dressing up on every Memorial Day in his uniform and I was so proud of him and he looked so handsome," Leier said. "That was instilled in me; the flag of my Dad, of what he fought for and all he sacrificed. He was a man of few words, but a very proud American."

The North Dakota Heritage Center held an observance on Monday to recognize all the American patriots who gave their lives in defense of their nation and for those who served their nation in uniform, but are no longer with us.

This year the program was sponsored by American Legion Lloyd Spetz Post No. 1. The observance featured a wide array of speakers such as Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Sen. John Hoeven, Rep. Kevin Cramer and keynote speaker Cmdr. Michael Hollenbach.

Hollenbach will be taking command of the U.S. Navy's newest submarine, the USS North Dakota, in July. He has spent 22 years in the Navy and 18 years in sub service.

"This will be the greatest honor of my life," Hollenbach said. "I hope I can live up to that and I hope I can be worthy of the name of the great state of North Dakota as well as worthy of the trust of the sailors that will be under my command. It's a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to the next three years taking that ship forward to defend America and keep peace."

The observance presented a wreath laying ceremony for the fallen heroes to represent the strength and sacrifice that the nation's heroes made. The ceremony concluded with a rifle salute from the Bismarck VFW 1326 and AMVETS Post 9, then followed by TAPS performed by Doug Webber of AMVETS. 

"It's heart warming to see so many people here," Hoeven said. "That's the way it should be to say thank you to all these veterans, and men and women in uniform today that have made the ultimate sacrifice."

In support of the Memorial Day ceremonies, the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, along with the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club organized a Memorial Day "Motorcycle Honor Ride" to the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery from The Shop, 131 Airport Road, to honor all fallen American service members, prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. More than 400 riders participated in the honor ride.

At noon, more than a thousand people gathered at the Memorial Day service that was held at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. This ceremony included welcoming remarks from Wrigley, Hoeven, Cramer, Maj. Gen. Sprynczynatyk and keynote speaker the retired Maj. Gen Alexander Macdonald.

"This holiday is observed in honor of our nation's armed service personnel who served in peace time and in war time," Macdonald said. "Today people throughout the country will gather together to remember, honor and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country and have provided to us those blessings, the freedoms and liberty. Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day."

After Macdonald addressed the crowd, the 188th Army Band Brass Quintet performed "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and it was followed by a rifle volley, Taps and a cannon salute by the North Dakota National Guard. 

After the flag was raised to full staff and the colors were retired, the  Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club along with the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club unveiled the new POW MIA memorial. The official dedication will be held at 11 a.m. on July 3 at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.

By Brett Williamson
Bismarck Tribune
Published May 25, 2015

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