Archive for Thursday, May 31, 2001

Celebration honors local veterans

May 31, 2001

As part of the Memorial Day celebration, several Leavenworth County organizations pooled their resources together to host ceremonies at the Leavenworth National Cemetery.

More than 20 groups cooperated to host the event that included the posting of colors, pledge of allegiance, a salute to the dead, as well as a 21-gun salute by the 705th Military Police Battalion, honoring fallen servicemen.

Several hundred people attended the event and many stayed after the ceremony to visit the cemetery, which was lined with American flags between graves.

Although it took a lot of planning and hard work, Vietnam veteran Tyrone Brown said the event went well and was worth the trouble.

"Everything ran very smoothly and to the T, just like the military," Brown said.

Brown, a 20-year Air Force veteran, completed two tours in Vietnam and said that Memorial Day should be a proud day for veterans and their families.

"These are the ones that sacrificed their lives so we could be free," Brown said. "Some veterans gave something and some gave everything, the ultimate sacrifice. I am here today to honor those men and celebrate their bravery."

While for some it is a day of honoring their fellow servicemen of year's past, for others, like Michel Sammur, it is a chance to commemorate the lives of family members that served their country.

Sammur visits the grave of her father, George A. Millard, every Memorial Day.

She said visiting the grave on Memorial Day becomes harder because all the military sounds and sights surrounding the day makes her think of him.

Millard was a staff sergeant and a radio operator in the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War. He was one of only four survivors of a plane crash during the war, and he saw many of his friends' die, Sammur said.

"He didn't talk about what happened too much because it was too painful," Sammur said. "A lot of people don't realize what these men go through to keep this country safe."

Sammur did not attend the event earlier in the day because she said it was too painful, although she realizes the importance of the day.

"If we didn't have these men, we wouldn't have this country," Sammur said. "I just wish more people would realize that."

During the event, Elgin Wahlberg, the state commander of the Kansas American Legion, gave a Memorial Day address in which he spoke of the role war veterans have played in the nation's history.

The event concluded with a retirement of colors ceremony and the musical selection "Taps" played by the Leavenworth Community Band.

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