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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Men and Women Who Gave Their Lives for Nation Remembered at UCM

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 26, 2015) – Although exact details regarding the nation’s first Memorial Day celebration may still be a topic of debate , the spirit of the holiday – honoring the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in service to the United States – must not be forgotten. That was the message Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, shared with those attending a Pre-Memorial Day ceremony at the University of Central Missouri.

Pre-Memorial Day ceremony

Keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, left, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, and UCM President Charles Ambrose prepare to carry a wreath to the front entrance of the UCM Alumni Chapel in honor of the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country. They were part of the Pre-memorial Day ceremony on campus May 20.

Danner spoke to a crowd of nearly 60 people during the May 20 event, which took place in the UCM Alumni Chapel. In addition to Danner’s keynote remarks, the annual ceremony included a welcome by UCM President Charles Ambrose; Moment of Honor to Those Fallen by Lt. Col. Dan Cureton, professor and chair of the UCM Department of Military Science; Reflection by Col. Gary Gilmore, joint services chaplain for the Missouri National Guard; and the Laying of the Wreath by Ambrose and Danner.

Gilmore talked about the significance of laying a wreath next to monuments and flags to demonstrate that “our freedom today is connected to the sacrifices of the past.”

“From time to time we need a confrontational reminder to make some space in our lives to say thank you … to connect our history and the people who wrote it,” he said. “Remember the people who wanted to do exactly what you and I are going to do today, but don’t have that opportunity because at one point in time they stood up and then they fell down.”

In his keynote remarks, Danner praised the strong relationship that exists between Whiteman Air Force Base, the community, and UCM. He recognized the outstanding support the Missouri National Guard has received in recent years as Guard members left the state and returned from deployment overseas. Contributing to the welcoming environment for those who serve their country is the Whiteman Air Force Base Community Council, which includes members of 18 surrounding communities. Danner called this group “the envy of the active duty bases around the United States.”

“Today’s soldiers have returned home with hearty welcomes,” he said, adding that “support for service members is never in short supply here in Warrensburg.

“Your support for the military is crucial to our mission. Missouri is known for its outstanding patriotism,” he told the gathering. He also added. “UCM has been a proud addition to the military services and continues to grow every year.”

Danner briefly discussed the history of Memorial Day. He noted, however, that the exact date and location of the first celebration is still not certain, although it honored those who fought and died in the Civil War.

“Memorial Day is a time of reflection and a time to be thankful for that which we have and all that we are,” he said. “Memorial Day traces its history back to Decoration Day, which was a day to honor the Union and Confederate dead. In fact, honoring the fallen was probably one of the first things that the North and South agree upon after the Civil War.

“If you look back at the history of Decoration Day, there is no clear agreed upon origin. Some say it started with…men in Charleston decorating Union graves. Others say it started….in Savannah (Ga.) honoring their Confederate dead. Or it may have been started by the townspeople of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania who decorated the thousands of graves on that hallowed ground a year after that horrific battle.

“You know I think it is fitting that we really don’t have a clear origin for Memorial Day. This concept is so basic, so apparent to our character as Americans that it comes across lines of regional or national differences...we can feel within us an obligation to honor them (soldiers) and their sacrifice. So we set aside time for today to report our remembrance on Memorial Day…We must never forget those professionals who answered that noble calling to serve the people of the United States,” Danner said.

Organizations which partnered to make the ceremony possible include the UCM Office of Military and Veteran Services, UCM Department of Military Science and Leadership, Missouri National Guard, Whiteman Air Force Base, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2513, and American Legion post 131. Representatives of the Columbia Area Vet Center and Kansas City VA Medical Center also participated in Pre-Memorial Day activities on campus.