The Voice photos by Renee Wells and C. Colt Crane
American Legion Auxiliary member Aleta Stringham plays Taps behind the Veterans’ Memorial at Gem Memorial Gardens Monday during a Memorial Day celebration.
BURLEY – As was the case in cemeteries across the nation, local veterans organizations came together Monday at the Gem Memorial Gardens Veterans Memorial to pay their respects to those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the country, as well as those who have served in the various Armed Forces organizations of our country.
Declo veteran Lovell Turner, 93, gave the keynote address at the half-hour long ceremony highlighted by a 21-gun salute and the playing for Taps.
Turner thanked the veterans of all conflicts for their service to country, then specifically cited the Vietnam War Veterans, saying their generation was going to have to “take over as most of the veterans of World War II are now gone.”
“I would like to thank the many Vietnam veterans, who came home from an unappreciated war, for their service,” Turner said.
“I would also like to say thank you to all of the people who are involved (in the various local veterans organizations) and who keep our rifles ready.
Turner spoke specifically about the black MIA/POW flag which flies below an American flag on a staff, and the thousands that flag represents. He specifically cited those soldiers who served during World War II near Japan in the Navy. He spoke of bodies that would wash ashore and need to be buried by the servicemen serving there. He acknowledged that many of those soldiers were buried without being identified because the ocean had corroded the chains of their dog tags and they were lost at sea.
“We were like Boy Scouts on that island,” Turner noted.
“We buried many with no dog tags, known only to God.”
Turner expressed his appreciation for the many local cemeteries who provide special services in remembrance of veterans.
Following his remarks, American Legion Auxiliary commander Vickie Fife conducted a formal memorial ceremony with the assistance of members of the Disable American Veterans, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Vietnam Veterans and the American Legion and Auxiliary. A 21-Gun salute was conducted by members of the American Legion.
The event was concluded by the playing for Taps, by Aleta Stringham, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Several dozen people attended the ceremony and many others, who were at Gem Memorial Gardens decorating graves, stood in silence as the ceremony was conducted.