Ames' Memorial Day ceremonies to be a mix of virtual and in-person — no parade this year
This year's Memorial Day ceremonies in Ames will be a hybrid of in-person and online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not have to make the day any less meaningful for veterans and the rest of the community.
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Egger said ahead of the day, "It's a really somber day, yet it's one of the best days of the spring."
Even as people kick off their summers, however, Egger said we should remember the people who are the reason behind the holiday.
Egger — the featured speaker for this year's Memorial Day ceremonies presented by the Ames Patriotic Council — said he knows someone who died on active duty, and he plans to talk Monday about the people who've inspired him over the years through their lessons and examples.
Egger was raised in a small farming community in northwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering. He entered the Air Force the following fall and had a more than 23-year career spanning the world and skies as an F-16 fighter pilot, retiring in 2013 as Chief of Weapons and Tactics for United States Air Forces in Europe.
He currently lives with his wife, Debbi, in Austin, Texas, and he's an airline pilot. Their middle child of three and younger of two sons is a junior at ISU.
Egger will speak during the online portion of Monday's ceremonies, which will begin at 11 a.m. The online portion will come first and will also include a welcome from Ames Mayor John Haila.
After their remarks, a flag raising, the playing of "Taps" and a rifle salute will be done live at the Ames Municipal Cemetery. A list of the names of veterans interred since last Memorial Day will be also be read.
According to the Ames Patriotic Council in a news release, this year's program is in a hybrid format "out of our continuing respect for the public health as the community works toward complete vaccination," and there will also not be a Memorial Day parade until next year.
Salutes to the dead will precede the main ceremonies Monday at the Ontario Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. and at the Story Memorial Gardens at 10 a.m.
Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.