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Memorial Day just not the same


WAYS TO OBSERVE MEMORIAL DAY - - Place flags, wreaths or flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. Many communities have cemeteries where unknown soldiers are buried. - At 3 p.m., take a moment to remember those who have died in service to the United States. - Listen to "Taps." - Attend or take part in a Memorial Day parade. - Visit a military or veterans museum.
May 25, 2011 | 07:31 AM
As Memorial Day approaches, there's something missing — I can feel it. Something is just not right.

Maybe it's less something than someone.

During my years as editor of the Regional News, to me, more than anyone, Ray Mellien signified Memorial Day. It's probably my memories of him in his uniform marching or him being one of the special detail for the 21-gun salute so many times at ceremonies and events in the area. It also is because every year, about three weeks prior to Memorial Day, he would stop in at the newspaper office, give me a great smile and hand me the mock up of the American Legion Memorial Day program, often with his handwritten notes on the schedule for the day's ceremony.

But, this year, that's not how the Lake Geneva Memorial Day program arrived. Instead, it was in an e-mail. And, I won't see Ray on the parade route in uniform or firing the blanks for the salute to end the ceremony.

On Nov. 27, 2010, Ray passed away at the age of 79. A Korean War Veteran who served in the Army and also served in Germany and France. I saw him at many events, mostly those that involved the American Legion and the Geneva Lake Museum. I talked to him a few times, but didn't know him really well. However, I will remember him always for his youthful smile, soft spoken nature, his commitment to Lake Geneva and his love of country and his fellow service men and women.

Ray Mellien was a hero — just like all those we will honor on Monday, who helped preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

So, when it's time for the moment of silence and taps is being played Monday morning, I will remember Ray.

I hope others will stop to think of a hero they know or knew. It could be a member of "The Greatest Generation" who served during World War II, someone who lost his or her life in another war, a family member who served and has since passed or someone who is in harm's way right now serving our great country.

But, if you can't come up with anyone to think about, remember Ray. He represents the memory of all those who served and are no longer with us.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News and former U.S. Army Reservist.

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