Hundreds of people filled the Brookings-Harbor port area Monday to honor and remember veterans andndash; at home, overseas and deceased andndash; who fought in America's wars.
VFW Post Commander Rick Bremer acknowledged those from the Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines who fought in battles from World War I to Afghanistan, as audience members placed flowers on a symbolic grave.
"Our town is very well represented here," he said. "In your daily travels, if you see any one of them, give them a thanks. That's all they want."
He specially noted the work of the Merchant Marines, who are not recognized as a uniformed military group, but lost more men per capita than any other service group.
He noted, too, the Vietnam veterans, who returned from fighting to a country that didn't appreciate their efforts.
"A lot of attention is brought to those who fought, or are fighting, in Iraq, Afghanistan," Bremer said. "What's forgotten is the Vietnam War. This act today should settle that. All I have to say is welcome home."
World War I, World War II, (The Greatest Generation), Korea (the Forgotten War), Vietnam, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan were all mentioned in a tribute that lasted more than an hour.
A symbolic grave was heaped with lilacs, lilies, azaleas, roses and orchids by the end of the ceremony, and dozens of citizens mentioned fathers, sons and daughters, uncles, grandparents and others who fought for the United States.
Flowers were presented to Gold Star Mothers andndash; those who had a child killed in combat, and Blue Star Mothers andndash; whose children are serving or had served.
"I make no apology for loving the United States of America, even with all its faults," one man said. "It's the best country in the world. This country has sacrificed much, and we owe an immense gratitude to these people. Their sacrifice was immeasurable."
Others remembered numerous family members who had died, and one mentioned the travesty that was 9/11.
Bremer also addressed the importance of unity.
"This town is very small," Bremer said. "There are a number of service groups. We all fought together, we all could've died together. Let's all work together; let's all live together."
A flag-raising ceremony at Ward Memorial Cemetery in Brookings is scheduled at 1 p.m. today. There, the VFW will raise the flags of the military branches, the POW-MIA and United States.