SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center and Orange City will have a combined virtual Memorial Day service for the first time in the history of each community.
“Despite the long-standing good-natured rivalry between the two communities, because of the circumstances this year, we thought a virtual service was the right thing to do. And who better to set an example of partnership than our veterans and military folks?” said Sioux Center American Legion post member Cory Van Sloten, who’s also an Army chaplain and pastor of Lebanon Christian Reformed Church. “As we approach Memorial Day amid the COVID-19 crisis, it is paramount we remember those fallen citizens who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.”
The service will be 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 25, via livestream on the Sioux Center News Facebook page. It will also be broadcast on KSOU radio, 93.9 FM.
The event is closed to the public, but it will take place — weather permitting — at Memory Gardens in Sioux Center or inside First Reformed Church in Sioux Center if it’s raining.
“Though it’s a scaled back and modified service compared to what each of our communities normally do, it still highlights the importance of remembering the fallen from our communities,” Van Sloten said.
Representatives from the Legions in both communities will help with the service, which is estimated to be about 20 minutes long.
This year’s message will be given by Army chaplain Jordan Helming of Sioux Center, who’s also serving as assistant pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Orange City.
Helming will touch on the significance of Memorial Day — that it honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military — and highlight a fallen soldier from each community.
Sioux Center has 15 residents who died in a time of war. Orange City has 22. The names of all 37 fallen soldiers will be read during the service as well as the list of veterans from each community who have died in the past year.
Memorial Day in Sioux Center will not include the patriotic bike decorating contest sponsored by the VFW, the parade to the cemetery or the pancake breakfast in Children’s Park, hosted by Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Center.
“Not doing a Memorial Day service was not an option for us,” Van Sloten said. “Churches have proven these past eight weeks that gathering online is an option, so we’re excited to be able to share our Memorial Day service in this way, too. While it’s not ideal, not what anyone had planned, it’s still a way for the communities to honor the fallen.”