It was a cool but beautiful Memorial Day sunrise at Missoula’s Crosspoint Community Church as the annual service organized by the United Veterans Council took place just after 6:00 a.m.

The service was held outdoors in the parking lot with Susan Campbell Reneau introducing Pastor Bruce Speer with an opening prayer and then Air Force veteran and gubernatorial candidate Dr. Al Olszewski as the featured speaker for the third year in a row. Dr. Olszewski drove from his home in Kalispell to make the 6:00 a.m. service.

“It’s not a day of mourning, but a day of memory,” said Dr. Olszewski. “It’s a day where we increase our resolve and create a self-inventory of who we are and how we remember those who gave their lives and sacrificed everything. These are the men and women who protected our country and protected their families.”

Dr. Olszewski took a moment to expand on the issue of families.

“When we pledge and swear an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic we bring our families along with us,” he said. “Our spouses, our sons and daughters, our parents and our brothers and sisters. This country does not just get one person, it gets the entire family to serve.”

Dr. Olszewski then pointed out the individuals who came home wounded, not just in body but in spirit and mind.

“There are those who came home with mortal wounds that just delayed their deaths,” he said. “That includes those who came back with traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and those who just could not continue on day after day with those wounds in the minds and memories and who committed suicide. So today, let us not mourn, but instead honor the memories of those who went before and enjoy this day and now resolve to serve this country, serve your community and the memory of all those who have gone before us.”

Following his address, there was a small honor guard and a bugler who played ‘Taps’.

The Missoula City County Health Department’s restrictions on large gatherings due to the COVID 19 virus would not allow the usual Memorial Day gathering at the Western Montana Veterans Cemetery.