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Editorial: Let’s make Memorial Day observance even better next year

Hastings is lucky to have a well-run and well-attended Memorial Day observance at Roadside Park every year. This year was no different.

Hundreds of people came in their best red, white and blue clothing to hear the speeches, sing along to patriotic songs and pay their respects to the men and women who died in the line of duty.

The program wasn’t perfect, though. As speakers were referencing the catastrophic totals of human lives lost fighting wars, children were squealing with glee while going down the big red slide just a few yards away.

It was hard to absorb the message being shared when the speeches were interrupted by screams. Certainly, there ought to be a way where the park can be shut down for 45 minutes so that the people who watch the program from that side of the park can hear it all without interruption. We are talking about one of the most solemn days of the year — a day where we pause to reflect on the lives lost by American soldiers who fought to keep us free.

Our second suggestion would be to close Highway 55 to traffic in both directions during the program. Vehicles could be routed to Ashland, 7th and Pine streets, a two- to three-minute detour. The vehicles passing by make it hard for those near the back of the crowd to hear. We are certain that closing a state highway, even for 45 minutes on a holiday, is no easy feat. We think it would be worth the work, though, especially for those sitting toward the back of the program.

If those two changes are made, everyone will be able to hear every word clearly. If they aren’t made, then more speakers should be added so that the sound can carry throughout the park.

We thank the organizers for putting together such a moving program again this year. We hope our suggestions do nothing to diminish the work they put into the program.