Omaha Memorial Day gatherings smaller but no less important among veterans

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 4:36 PM CDT
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Even in the middle of a pandemic, a group of Vietnam War Veterans made sure those who paid the ultimate price for freedom were remembered today.

Army Veteran Dan Kutilek has been awarded the Silver Star and a Purple Heart while defending our country. He wanted to make sure there was a ceremony at Memorial Park to honor those who died fighting for our country.

“I was fortunate. I was injured. It could have been a fatality very easily. For whatever reason, God looked out after me -- I feel I owe God and my brothers at least my attention every Memorial Day,” Kutilek said.

Omaha attorney and Vietnam Veteran James Martin Davis organized the event. He wants to make sure the veterans are remembered today -- no speeches, no politicians -- just a group of veterans who want people to remember what today is all about.

“That’s what we want people to understand without regard to COVID, without regard to the fact that they can't go to the beach or picnic. You got to remember that’s what the whole day is about. Is remembering these people who fought, were killed and remember their families that have that gaping hole in their heart that can never be filled,” Davis said.

For most veterans here today, this event is personal, and the names on the Memorial Park monument represent people they knew.

“They were talented people. Smart people, they had their whole lives ahead of them -- who knows what they would have ended up being. They would have been successful, I know that,” Davis said.

There were no large crowds today, no Air Force flyover. A recording and a smartphone replaced the soldier who would normally end the Memorial Day ceremony here with the playing of “Taps.”

“Being that it was so solemn and just a handful of brothers -- it’s special. I won’t forget this one as long as I live,” Davis said.

Other traditional Memorial Day events were also canceled today, including ceremonies at the Omaha National cemetery.

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