WOODS CROSS — As Americans, we need to continue to value and fight to keep the freedoms that help make this country great.
Sen. Orrin Hatch urged those attending the Woods Cross Memorial Day observance to continue the fight for which so many men and women have died.
“I fiend people just as patriotic as ever,” he said. “But in this day and age we have to concerned that the greatest and freest country is being taken away.”
Speaking especially to the young, Utah’s senior senator said “Hopefully you’ll catch the vision of the wars in which Americans fought – in every one of those wars we were fighting for freedom. If we don’t take these matters very seriously, I’m concerned we’ll lose.”
“I’m not ready to relinquish America’s number one position in the world,” Hatch said. “We need to keep the spirit of America.”
Freedom of religion is one of the most important freedom Americans enjoy, he said. “That keeps us free, almost more than anything else.”
Hatch spoke of the Hobby Lobby case being considered by the Supreme Court, with a ruling possible by next month.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in the latest challenge to the Obama health care overhaul.
Hobby Lobby, a nationwide arts-and-crafts chain with stores in Bountiful and Layton, is fighting against having to provide insurance coverage that would cover contraceptive use by employees. .Non-profits are excluded from having to provide coverage, but not for-profit businesses.
“I hope the Supreme Court won’t screw up,” Hatch said of the nine-member body where a vote could go 5-4 either way.
Hatch also spoke of the sacrifices made by so many, of the emotional experience it is to visit a military cemetery, such as in Luxemborg, where Gen. George Patton and 5,000 other American servicemen are buried.
Wars have touched families in a very personal way, he said, including his, with the loss of a brother, Jesse Hatch, who, as a B-24 nose gunner, lost his life.
“He shot down a German fighter, won a Purple Heart,” Hatch said. “My mother got two dozen roses after she was notified he had died. A year later they found his remains.”
There were other losses in his family during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Geri Stephenson, who lost her son, Dion James Stephenson, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
He was a 1987 graduate of Woods Cross High and was an Air Force Recon Marine.
“One of the most enjoyable things I do is getting medals for those who served but didn’t get them,” Hatch said. “They deserve the Medal of Honor.”
Rob Ellis conducted a men’s choir that sang patriotic numbers composed by Hatch, including “I Love Old Glory,” “Blades of Grass” and “Pure White Stones.” Other numbers included “Amazing Grace.”
The morning started with a foot and bike race, breakfast, climbing wall, assorted booths, and a chance to visit the Smoke Trailer and see LifeFlight.