Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood observes Memorial Day at cemetery


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Ironwood --- Memorial Day is a big weekend, as Ross Solberg pointed out to a crowd at Ironwood's annual observance Monday.

It's a time for graduation celebrations, an extended weekend, and the unofficial changeover from spring to summer, or as he said for Yoopers, "Many times, it signifies the end of winter and the beginning of summer."

The reason for Memorial Day is much more significant for Solberg, the guest speaker at Ironwood's service Monday, and for many others.

For Solberg, it's about Aug. 1, 2012. He was in Afghanistan, a platoon sergeant on patrol for a team working to clear combat routes of improvised explosive devices. The Taliban had a presence there and it was a dangerous area.

When he got back to their base, he learned that an IED exploded where one of their four route-clearing teams was working, killing one soldier.

He said the day he attended the memorial ceremony for him, whose name he didn't want to provide for publication, was the saddest of his life.

"Today, I ask you all, while you are enjoying your Memorial Day weekend festivities to remember that Memorial Day honors the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country," Solberg said. "These courageous individuals have given everything they have to defend our freedoms and way of life."

He added, "Memorial Day reminds us of the high price of freedom and the debt of gratitude we owe to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It is a day to reflect on their sacrifice and to honor their memory with gratitude."

Solberg is retiring as Gogebic County Sheriff at the end of his term in December. He served in the 107th Engineer Battalion in the Michigan Army National Guard from 2000 to 2021, when he retired as a Company First Sergeant after 21 years of service.

Ironwood's annual observance began with a parade to the site of the service at Riverside Cemetery and it included a stop at the Veterans Monument by the U.S. Post Office.

At the cemetery, the service also included a battlefield salute to fallen comrades, the laying of the roses, "in memory of those who gave their lives and missed the joys of their children," the placing of the wreaths, and more.

The Luther L. Wright band played the National Anthem and a Memorial Chorus sang several songs.