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Veterans honored at Memorial Day service

Grey clouds threatened rain over New Live Cemetery Monday morning. The usual assortment of joggers and runners had thinned to a courageous few; the rest disappeared for fear of storms by 10 a.m.

A small crowd, though, could be found standing near the American Legion Memorial even as clouds deepened. Members of American Legion Post 20 stood silently, hands raised in salute as the American flag was raised to half-mast.

Smith read a list of those who had fallen in service of their country. The numbers made the holiday more than a day free from work; it made it a day of remembrance and honor for the two centuries of soldiers who had died so America could remain free.

The American Revolution saw approximately 25,000 dead. The War of 1812, 2,260. The Civil War was one of the most devastating, Smith said. The North lost about 363,000; the South, 199,000. The Spanish-American War, 2,893. World War I, 116,000. World War II, 408,000. The Korean War felled 54,000. The Vietnam War, 58,000. The Persian Gulf War, 363 people.

But the casualties didn’t stop with war. Others have paid the ultimate price since America entered the war on terrorism.

Smith said 3,022 died in the World Trade Center attacks. Eighty-five lost their lives in the Afghanistan conflict, known as Operation Enduring Freedom. And 162 have died in the ongoing Operation Iraqi Freedom.

James Tennimon, service officer elect for Legion Post 20, joined Smith Monday morning for the Legion’s ceremony.

Tennimon assisted Legion Post 20 member Walt Myers in raising the flag to half-mast at 10 a.m. Legionnaires returned to the Legion Memorial at noon and brought it to full-mast. It was lowered at 6 p.m.

Frank Arnold, Legion Post 20 adjutant, said the least he could do was to honor fallen service people on their day. Commander of Legion Post 20 Frank Ikerman agreed. Ikerman said he came to Monday’s ceremony to show respect for those that paid the supreme sacrifice.

Monday’s ceremony was the first of its kind. Smith said Legion Post 20 used to place small American flags at each service persons’ grave, but now they will use the flag raising at the Legion Memorial on all patriotic holidays.