Memorial Day observed

NEW ULM – New Ulm Battery cannon fire echoed in the Minnesota River Valley on Monday at a Memorial Day observance attended by hundreds at the New Ulm City Cemetery.

“Our democracy cannot exist without our veterans,” said New Ulm native and Ohio State University Military History Chairman Dr. Peter Mansoor, U.S. Army Colonel (retired).

“The fruits of the world come to our shores because of freedom protected by those willing to serve and sacrifice,” Mansoor said. “Television newsman Tom Brokaw called World War II veterans America’s greatest generation. Will such a generation ever be produced again? I say yes, it already has. Veterans fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq with courage. valor and sense of duty, making sacrifices for the common good, enabling America to achieve all it has. May God bless our fallen war heroes and continue to bless the United States of America.”

American Legion Boys State participant Bryan Dewanz of New Ulm, who plans to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, gave the Memorial Address.

“You must be willing to commit yourself for a greater cause,” Dewanz said, citing New Ulm World War II veteran Willibald C. Bianchi, who received the Medal of Honor, Bronze Star and Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters for his actions in Bataan, Philippines, during that country’s capitulation to Japanese forces.

“Bianchi was shot in the chest several times but fought on with a pistol and grenades against enemy machine gun nests,” Dewanz said. “On the Bataan Death March, imprisoned in horrible conditions at several Japanese prisoner of war camps, he bartered with prison guards for extra food and medicine for starving and battered troops, more than 2,000 of whom perished in the first two weeks at one camp.”

Other POWs described Bianchi, moving up and down the line of prisoners, sharing their burdens and spurring on soldiers crazed by hunger and thirst, Dewanz said.

Bianchi was aboard an unmarked Japanese prison ship on Jan. 9, 1945. The ship was sunk by an American war plane that dropped a 1,000-pound bomb in the cargo hold, unaware that it contained Americans. Survivors later told Bianchi’s family that he typically went into the ship’s cargo hold to aid the sick.

“We must also remember military members who died after their service,” Dewanz said. “Remember how much they sacrificed to make things here so great.”

Barrett Carlson, a recent graduate of Cathedral High School, read the Gettysburg Address.

Musical selections were provided by the New Ulm Municipal Band and the Concord Singers. Sam Arsers performed “Taps.”

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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