Memorial Day turned out to be just perfect in Chariton for dedicating a park --- the new Veterans Memorial Park on the former county jail site just northwest of the post home of Carl L. Caviness American Legion Post No. 102.
This I suppose is my favorite photo, taken as a Burlington Northern & Santa Fe coal train played its part --- punctuating the ceremonies as an active duty Marine and a Marine veteran waited to unveil one of five benches commemorating the five branches of service.
Trains have been rolling past this site in precisely the same location since 1867 carrying among other things service personnel to and from their duty stations and supplies for the nation's war efforts so its appearance was entirely appropriate.
A terrific crowd was on hand early for the event.
U.S. Sen Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) were seated in the shade.
Active duty personnel from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force were on hand to do their part.
And a Chariton High School brass quintet, led by band director Daniel Scheetz (center; yes I know he has his eyes closed) were there to provide appropriate music.
The indefatigable Earl Comstock (right), who has spearheaded the park effort for Legionnaires and others, was present to narrate the program and Tony Irving, to sing the National Anthem.
Pastor Brenda Crossfield, of First Lutheran Church --- headed off now to a new assignment at Decorah Lutheran Church --- performed her last official acts in Chariton while delivering the invocation and benediction.
And Boy Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance before the principal speakers were introduced.
Loebsack was first.
Then Ernst, the keynote speaker.
As the brass quintet played music appropriate to the branch of service, the five benches were unveiled. Army and Air Force were on the opposite side of the park.
But I was able to trample enough people to take a few shots as active duty representatives and veterans unveiled the Navy bench.
And the Marine bench.
Active duty Coast Guard personnel couldn't be present, so the Navy stepped in. Coast Guard veterans are a rare thing in Lucas County, but the late Dwight Vredenburg was one and so his son, John, represented him as the bench representing this branch of service was unveiled.
Finally, Daniel ended the service with "Taps."
A lot of work on the park --- and fund-raising --- remains to be done. When complete, for example, a heavy-duty decorative fence will separate the park from the railroad right-of-way. But Sunday's dedication capped a tremendous effort to date --- and was a lovely way to spend Memorial Day afternoon.