Legacy shapes Hillsboro event
Looking into the crowd from behind a lectern, Josh Plenert could see children among the 200 or so gathered for Memorial Day observances Monday at Memorial Park.
The youngest ones rested quietly in the arms of their parents or in strollers, while ones old enough to understand paid respectful attention until they could bolt for play time after the service.
Hillsboro native Plenert was one of them once, attending Memorial Day services with his father, Al, a Vietnam veteran. Now a veteran himself, he stood with fellow veterans, presiding for a second time as commander of the Hillsboro American Legion post.
“It’s just like I’ve come full circle, like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” Plenert said.
A traditional steak luncheon at the American Legion followed the ceremony. Most of the 150 guests were gone when Plenert finally sat down to eat.
“I grew up here,” he said, looking around the room. “My sister and I came in all the time when we were young. Some others wouldn’t have that attachment.”
Early experiences were partially responsible for his decision to join the military in 2004. Legacy guides the Iraq War veteran as post commander.
“I try to keep things much the same, because that’s the way I enjoyed things,” Plenert said. “I think most everything they did here and do here now is the way to do it.”
Plenert would like to see more people without family connections to a veteran attend Memorial Day ceremonies. “Americanism classes” taught by American Legion Auxiliary members at Hillsboro Elementary School are a start, helping to raise awareness, Plenert said.
“If you go to bigger cities and ask most kids what Memorial Day is all about, they wouldn’t be able to tell you,” he said. “I would imagine if you ask any of the kids here, fourth grade and up, I’ll bet they’re pretty well versed in it.”
Last modified May 27, 2015