HOUGHTON - For more than a century, May 30 was Memorial Day.
And it was again at Veterans Park in Houghton Wednesday, where the Copper Country Veterans Association held a ceremony dedicating a plaque for Iraq war veterans and honoring those who have served.
"If you just know one, then you'll know the cost of freedom," said Copper Country Veterans Association Vice-President Ken McKay, who ran the event.
Jim Huovinen speaks at a ceremony honoring the traditional Memorial Day at the Veterans Park in Houghton Wednesday. The ceremony included the dedication of a plaque honoring veterans of the war in Iraq. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)
The ceremony also marked the installation of a 1917 Howitzer 75-millimeter cannon, which was built to be non-operational.
"It's at ease, as we wish our soldiers were at this time," McKay said. "No war, but peace."
Memorial Day was created in 1868 by General Order No. 11, which called for veterans to be honored on May 30.
"On that day in 1868, they decorated the grave sites of Confederate and Union soldiers," McKay said.
That was changed in 1971, when Congress decreed Memorial Day would be observed the last Monday in May.
Many people locally have grown up with veterans as teachers and coaches - "quiet heroes," said speaker Jim Huovinen, a Marine veteran. Three Dollar Bay graduates killed in action in Vietnam are being remembered by a memorial display being built by VFW Post 4624 in Hubbell and VFW Post 6028 in Dollar Bay.
"Looking at the veterans gathered here today makes me feel proud to be an American," McKay said. "In the not-so-distant past, these men volunteered to go in harm's way to defend our country's interests on dangerous and distant shores. They joined a 'Band of Brothers' and fought for each other. They are still volunteering by serving in parades, providing honor guards at funerals, educating our youth and reminding us our freedom comes at a price that is paid for with blood, sweat and tears."
Cpl. Roy Thomas, a Marine Corps League member and Iraq War veteran, was on hand for the dedication of the Iraq War plaque, which lists Thomas Christensen and Paul Johnson, who died fighting in Iraq.
A total of 4,487 troops were lost in Iraq, while 32,223 more were wounded, he said.
"I'm proud to be here in the company of all these fellow veterans and warriors," Thomas said.
The ceremony ended with a traditional rifle salute.