There couldn't have been a better way to begin the Memorial Day Weekend than remembering those who were lost in America's longest and most costly war.
A small group of veterans and Brookings residents gathered Friday evening at City Hall to remember the young men and women lost in the Vietnam War. The names of the 666 Oregonians killed during the war, including those who are still missing in action, were read to the gathering of about 15 people.
Proof the war is not entirely over was evident. The remains of two Oregonian MIA's have been found and identified within the last two years, dropping the number of state residents missing in action to 39.
Despite deepening wrinkles and graying hair, Steve Dryden, president of Chapter 757 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, remembered his comrades as young men.
"Each man we knew who fell in combat remains as old as he will ever be," Dryden said. "It is impossible to imagine what books he may have read or written, what children, what dreams he may have nurtured.
"Most were dead before they truly lived. (Never) getting to dance at a daughter's wedding or gloating over a son's first touchdown.
"We, who are combat veterans know something others will, thankfully, never know. Something a movie screen will never portray. Something real time' coverage can never communicate. We know the smell of war, but do not possess the vocabulary to share the smell of death. But we can do what we are here to do today," he added.
That was read the names of the contingent of Oregonians who were counted among the 58,200 young Americans who gave their lives in service of their country.