WINFRED, S.D. (KELO) – This Memorial Day, a family in Winfred is keeping a 70-year-old memorial tradition alive.
Every Memorial Day, Linda and Neil McIntyre and their family go out to the Winfred Cemetery where they honor those who have served.
“It’s just important to remember them and their service and their sacrifice,” McIntyre said.
A tradition that started 70 years ago by the local American Legion. But throughout the years most members passed on and it eventually disbanded. It’s now the McIntryre’s, led by Neil who keep that tradition alive.
“Neil wanted to keep it on to honor the veterans that are buried out here, so we’ve done our own little ceremony for the past four years,” McIntyre said.
Neil is a Vietnam Veteran and former Winfred American Legion member. He has Parkinson’s and is unable to talk, but through his family, his love for his country is loud for all to hear.
“He still wants to do everything he can to come out and play his part and make sure these soldiers are honored and remembered,” Menkhaus said.
Their daughter Erin Menkhaus has been helping with the ceremony for the past 40 years.
“As I got older, I would help my mom with the music, and my son, when they were still having the ceremony in the church, my son carried the flag as a Boy Scout one year,” Menkhaus said.
Today, her kids are just as involved.
“It’s special because I’ve done this every year of my life and I’ve put out flags every year,” Bryson said.
The family says the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the Star Spangled Banner and read the names of veterans buried in the cemetery. Then Neil acts as a one-man firing squad.
“It’s always been very important to him, and he’s always just stressed the importance of, ‘freedom isn’t free,’ and we need to remember those who fought and died and who fought and came home and everybody who’s been willing to sacrifice and serve in the military,” Menkhaus said.
They finish the ceremony by playing ‘taps’. McIntryre says that community members are always welcome to join in the tradition.