Worthington honors its fallen warriors during Memorial Day ceremony
WORTHINGTON — With sunny skies and a sweltering temperature prevailing, at least 200 people gathered in Chautauqua Park late Monday morning to pay their respects on Memorial Day.
“Prepare to fire three volleys in honor of our departed comrades,” intoned Tom Tracy of the local VFW’s Color Guard before his colleagues did just that.
Then, as the echo of “Taps” continued reverberating over the waters of Lake Okabena, the Rev. Scott Barber of Grace Community Church offered the ceremony’s invocation.
“We thank the Lord for the fallen,” said Barber, “and we pause to express our gratitude for the many men and women who have given the price of their own blood to win our freedom.
“Freedom is not free.”
Linda Neugebauer, as the Memorial Day service emcee, introduced the Worthington High School students — Sean Souksavath, Cynthia Souksavath and Ashley Noerenberg — who presented historic recitations, including Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address” and John McCrae’s touching “In Flanders Fields.”
The “Amazing” Worthington City Band, directed by Mike Peterson, played its traditional Memorial Day selections: “America the Beautiful,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and the “Navy Hymn,” as well as “The Servicemen’s Salute,” which offered the chance for military veterans in attendance to identify themselves and be publicly recognized for a moment.
One of those veterans — Dan Anderson of Worthington — was the day’s featured speaker.
Anderson, currently a shop and adjunct history teacher in northwest Iowa, is a member of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc. The organization has 52 bases in the United States, and Anderson is active in the USS Scorpion SS-278 base in South Dakota.
Anderson shared a succinct and detailed account of U.S. military submarine history, noting such facts as these:
- Germany didn’t have radar until 1944
- During World War II, the U.S. had no submarines in the Atlantic or Mediterranean, ensuring the only subs in those waters were Axis watercraft and could thus be more confidently targeted
- After losing two nuclear subs, the U.S. Navy implemented in the early 1960s the “sub safe program,” which was essentially the start of what is now widely known as “quality assurance” across all industries
- U.S. submarines conducted important espionage activities during the Cold War
Anderson himself served aboard five different submarines, including the Skipjack, the Greenling, the Memphis and the Plunger—the latter being the most decorated submarine of the Cold War era.
Anderson termed his submarine service as stressful and intense but fun, and mentioned it gave him a chance to see many countries.
“Thank you for listening to this submarine history lesson,” summed Anderson. “It’s been an honor to be here today.”