Memorial meanings: Speaker honors the heritage behind the word in Denver park

By on May 31, 2017

The children of Denver may not realize when they play baseball, sled, feed the goldfish in the park, go to the fair, that they are doing these things in the exact same place as did those folks whose names are listed on the War Memorial in Denver Memorial Park.

Even though the word “Memorial” is a huge hint of why the park was built, do those using it think of its meaning?

Lt. Cmdr. Daniel J. McQuate, a 1999 graduate of Cocalico High School, says he did not. McQuate was the distinguished speaker for the Denver Memorial Day celebrations on May 29.

“A big part of my childhood was time in this very park,” said McQuate. “To somebody not from here, it may seem like just another park, but being a kid in Denver, it was pretty much the center of the universe.

“One thing I never did in this park when I was growing up is go to the corner of Eighth and Main streets and really try to understand what the monument that stands there means.”

McQuate has served in the United States Coast Guard for nearly 18 years. He graduated from the Coast Guard Recruit Basic Training in Cape May, N.J., in 1999, and, the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in New London, Conn., in 2005. He currently serves as the chief of the Facility Compliance Safety Branch at Coast Guard headquarters where he is responsible for the development of doctrine, policy, and procedures utilized by more than 400 facility inspectors nationwide in some 3,750 waterfront facilities.

Though a cool drizzle greeted the spectators, McQuate’s words honoring those who sacrificed themselves for a greater cause, were bright. He urged spectators to hug their loved ones who served or experienced loss.

“The pain that is shared by so many, is the pain that can be hidden, but will never go away,” said McQuate. “I ask that you give a hug to someone who lost a loved one for a cause greater than themselves.”

McQuate gave an insider’s perspective of how worldly tensions have affected those in service to country in over the past decade.

“I was stationed in Hawaii back in 2004 and 2005,” said McQuate. “I knew troops were deployed and I remember feeling like there was an air of uneasiness, but for the most part, people were smiling.”

A few years went by and McQuate noticed the faces change.

“The uneasy smiles I saw at Schoefield Barracks in 2004 were replaced by looks of pain,” said McQuate. “Not just physical pain, but a pain of loss. A pain that those soldiers and family members will always have after losing so many of their own in battle.

“Another generation of Americans has to live with this pain.”

“Their loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice and today and every day we must remember them for putting service, and ultimately their life, before self,” he said. “We must also recognize there was a hole left in the hearts of many others.

“It’s needless to say that today I have a much better understanding of why the monument stands on the corner over there.”

Todd S. Stewart, Denver councilman, officiated the ceremony.

“It’s becoming a tradition in Denver that each year we honor a fallen veteran, someone who gave their life for their country,” said Stewart.

Dale L. Shober was honored this year. Shober was born in 1936. He was a Boy Scout and a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

“Dale’s assignment was to fly 15- to 16-hour missions that would take him from Newfoundland, Canada, to a small group of islands off Portugal, and then to Argentina and then back to Newfoundland,” said Stewart.

Stewart said the crew of 22 men aboard were to monitor the locations of Soviet submarines using sonar and radar.

“On Feb. 28, 1958, Dale’s plane disappeared from the radar,” said Stewart. “The Navy searched for at least eight days, yet no debris was ever found. Dale was listed as missing. Three months later, Dale was declared dead.

“The Shober family has since made efforts to find out what actually happened. While there had been reports that at least three aircraft had been shot down by the Soviets in that time period, these reports remain unconfirmed.”

Shober’s surviving family members came on stage and were given red carnations. The pain of the loss remains with them nearly 60 years later.

Britta Killian, president of Reinholds VFW Ladies Auxiliary, introduced the 2017 Poppy Queen, Skyelar Bohn, granddaughter of Jeff Wenrich, senior vice commander of the Reinholds VFW. She handed out poppies in return for a donation to the VFW.

“The Buddy Poppy Program helps the VFW to honor its motto to honor the dead by helping the living,” said Killian. “The poppy is a small red flower symbolic of the bloodshed in World War I by millions of allied soldiers in defense of freedom.”

Killian mentioned the poem “In Flanders Fields”written by Lt. Colonel John McCrae during WWI. The poem speaks about the poppies that grow wild over the graves of WWI soldiers.

Funds from the poppies go to disabled veterans.

Stewart thanked the sponsors that helped create the day:

Centerport Band; Reinholds VFW Color Guard and Auxiliary; Kauffman’s Tractor; Friendly Horseman’s Club; Floral Time Floral Design; Denver Orioles Woman’s Club; Denver Park Association; Cocalico High School Small Ensemble; Nolan Leid; Bob Gensemer; Mike Hession, borough manager; Dennis Worley; Charlie Messner, former mayor; Denver Cub Scouts; Boy Scouts Venture Crew; Steve Leed; Sarah Register, Denver Junior Council member; Pastor Michael Roney; Mayor Rodney Redcay.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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