VALPARAISO | Local businessman and World War II Veteran Bill Wellman spoke during Valparaiso’s annual Memorial Day Weekend Service at Foundation Meadows Park on Friday morning where he announced a new tradition in the city that he said was close to his heart.
The park will feature an automated recording of taps that will play at dusk every day, along with one that will play through Valpo’s downtown speakers, at the Porter County Museum, the American Legion, and the VFW Post, said Wellman.
“This is going to be known as taps city pretty soon,” he joked after telling the crowd of neighbors, veterans, service men and women, and city officials that the idea came to him after watching a television show depicting a man in Tacoma, Wash. who has performed the song on his bugle every day at dusk for two years.
Wellman said it was his own service in the war that brought him respect for the song.
“It was 68 years ago in Okinawa, Easter, 1945 and we did three days of burials at sea. That’s the reason I got involved in this. That’s where taps got to me,” he said of his gift to the city.
The ceremony also featured a speech and benediction from the Rev. John Wolf who served as a chaplain during World War II.
“Perhaps it’s time to revisit the real enemy, war itself,” Wolf said, noting that society has grown accustomed to war and its casualties as he warned the crowd never to forget.
“We hardly pause to reflect on the huge loss of human life and national treasures. We are to remember the cost. The best memorial to these brave men and women is to affirm the cause of peace and work toward compassion and show our appreciation for caring for the world for future generations,” he said.
Mayor Jon Costas welcomed the color guard from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 905 and service men and women and he noted that “it’s important to take time to remember and reflect because our quality of life didn’t just happen. It came as a result of the dedication of those who came before us.”
Parks & Recreation Director John Seibert spoke of duty, sacrifice, charity, hope, and friendship found every day in our region and he, Matt Murphy, and Doug Pierce read the names of those in the city who gave their lives in the name of service.