For over a hundred years, Nebraskans have gathered on Memorial Day to honor and celebrate the heroes who’ve died to preserve our freedom in America. In 1888, business student Frisby L. Rasp wrote a letter to his family about Omaha’s Memorial Day parade, which continues to this day.
“It was the finest thing I ever saw,” Rasp wrote of the parade to his parents in Gresham. “The crowd was something wonderful. You would not think there was so many people in Nebraska let alone Omaha.”
From Omaha’s National Cemetery to the small towns spread across the state, people will gather to continue the tradition of honoring our fallen heroes on Memorial Day.
Cities and towns big and small will come together in remembrance of those who have fought for our country. Runners will congregate for the Boys Town National Research Hospital Memorial Day Run, which raises money for vulnerable children while honoring the fallen. In the city of Chadron, many will attend a special Memorial Day service hosted by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church at Calvary Cemetery.
The stories of Nebraskans who lost their lives in service to our nation are all around us, and we remember them both on Memorial Day and throughout the year.
Army Sergeant Wayne Cornell, from Holstein, was a member of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Sergeant Cornell deployed to Iraq with the Army to serve his country. In 2007, he was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
Sergeant 1st Class James Gallegos called him a “good soldier, a good leader, a quiet professional” in an obituary. The dedicated husband and father left behind a five-year-old son, three-year-old daughter, and one unborn daughter.
“Wayne, you are truly an American hero. Every time I see a flag, I’ll think of you,” wrote his sister Janelle.
Nebraskans remember Sergeant Cornell when we walk down Wayne R. Cornell Street in Hastings, dedicated to the extraordinary service of this soldier. We honor and remember him this Memorial Day.
Sergeant Cory Mracek, born in Chadron, joined the Army in 1986 and was deployed to Korea. Sergeant Mracek later returned to Chadron, but after the attacks on September 11, 2001, he told his mother according to an obituary: “I have to go back in the Army, my country needs me. I am trained to fight, and I want to go to Afghanistan.”
Sergeant Mracek deployed to Iraq in 2004 as part of the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1 Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, and shortly after, he and two others were killed by an improvised explosive device.
Nebraskans remember Sergeant Mracek when we visit the Sergeant Cory Mracek Memorial Post Office in Chadron, where this hero spent much of his life. We honor and remember him this Memorial Day.
Last month, the new Corporal Daegan Page Memorial Scoreboard was unveiled at the Motto McLean Ice Arena in Omaha. Cpl. Page served in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and was one of 13 American service members killed in a terrorist attack at the Kabul International Airport during the 2021 withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
Nebraskans will remember Cpl. Page when we see this new scoreboard. We honor and remember him this Memorial Day.
These are just a few of the brave men and women who have served us courageously over the centuries, and we are especially grateful for them this Memorial Day weekend. I am sure that generations to come will continue to be amazed, just like Frisby L. Rasp was, at the way thousands of us Nebraskans come together in appreciation of our military. Today and every day, we honor them.
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