Gulfport remembers America's war dead

Gulfport remembers America's war dead
Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention holding American flags during the service. (Photo source: WLOX)
Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention holding American flags during the service. (Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On a day when most of us enjoyed time off from work to enjoy family and friends, dozens gathered in Gulfport to remember something much more important. The tolling of the bell was a stark reminder of the cost of war, more than 1.4 million Americans have given their lives in battle.

For Lamar Gray, who led that presentation, the pain of loss was evident.

"It's a normal reaction. When you read figures that astounding, it's a huge magnitude of human life," Gray said.

Active duty military will never forget, including Seabee commander Capt. Paul Odenthal.

"We're here not only to remember them, but to honor them so rightfully the way they deserve. And to remember that we owe them a debt."

Part of that debt is being paid by the Patriot Guard Riders, standing at attention holding American flags during the service.  Sandie Schlett is the with organization.

"There are many who lost their lives in many different wars which will be recognized here today and we live the way we live because of their sacrifice," Schlett said.

For many of those who attended Monday's remembrance ceremony in Gulfport, it was an emotional day. They have felt the sting of personal loss caused by war.

"We lost a family member, my great uncle, Zane Flynn in World War II. He was never found, but they did eventually declare him killed in action. And not only that, but my father was also a Vietnam War vet," Jennefer Cleveland explained.

Gulfport City Councilman Truck Casey lost a brother. It seems like yesterday for him.

"When they came by and gave my family the news that he has been killed in Vietnam. And I'll tell you, I also feel the same pain that everyone else has felt when they lost their loved ones," Casey said.

A somber bagpipe serenade added to the moment. Then a fitting end with a 21 gun salute for the fallen. About 100 people, both civilian and military, attended the ceremony at Jones Park.

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