More than 200 area residents and visitors took the time on Memorial Day to honor the memories of Americans who served their country in time of war, and especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of dying while in the line of duty.

The ceremony, held Monday morning on the west end of the Port of Brookings Harbor boardwalk, opened in breathtaking fashion as an Oregon Air National Guard F-16 did a low fly-by over the site at the very moment the U.S. Coast Guard posted the nations colors.

In his opening invocation, Pastor Jim Lamb of First Baptist Community Church compared those being honored to another man who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I thought of those who we come to honor today, he said, how they had some of the same attributes of Christ commitment and sacrificial love.

VFW Post 966 Commander Richard Sloniker talked of payment on a special national debt.

Today this nation is deep in debt . . . Im speaking of a different kind of debt, a debt of blood, of sacrifice, of pain, that our forefathers have paid into the bank of freedom so that we can draw on that interest each and every day of our lives, he said.

This debt requires the occasional down payments of sacrifice. The payments on democracy have been made throughout history. . . .

I pray that those who are not called to sacrifice will always understand that freedom isnt free, but was purchased with the blood of Americans. All gave some, some gave all.

Elaine Prevenes, 2001 Azalea Festival Queen and Oregon state winner of the VFWs Voice of Democracy essay contest, shared how her perspective of freedom was changed while writing the essay.

The essay has given me the opportunity to contemplate what freedom really means to me, she said.

And through this essay I have come to a better understanding of what their (veterans) sacrifice really means to the freedom we enjoy today.

The ceremony ended as various local officials, representatives of organizations and individuals placed flower wreaths on a mock grave symbolic of those who had perished in defending their country.

More than 40 people took the time to lay a wreath and share their reasons for doing so.

Many did so in remembrance of a loved one who had sacrificed their lives as members of the U.S. military.

Following the portside ceremony, the Azalea Festival court, grand marshals Archie and Dorris McVay, and two members of the Vietnam Veterans of America boarded a Coast Guard rescue craft for a short trip out to sea.

The eight participants then placed wreaths on the water in remembrance of Americas veterans.