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  • Honoring the fallen

    Hundreds brave rain to attend annual Memorial Day ceremony at Eagle Point National Cemetery
  • Storms clouds dropping intermittent rain didn't dampen the spirit at the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Eagle Point National Cemetery on Monday.
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  • Storms clouds dropping intermittent rain didn't dampen the spirit at the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Eagle Point National Cemetery on Monday.
    An overflow crowd, albeit some armed with umbrellas, gathered for the event, which included everything from bagpipes to speeches.
    "This makes me feel so good to see all these people here," observed Jim Hanley, 89, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1833 in Medford, as he looked out at the crowd.
    The yearly gathering awakens lost memories, said Hanley who served as ball turret gunner aboard a B-17 bomber in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
    "There is a lot in my head that I can't get to much anymore," he said. "But this ceremony and these people here help bring it back. It's wonderful to see this crowd."
    While the ceremony followed tradition, there was a new twist: instead of two Oregon Air National Guard F-15 fighter jets roaring over, three helicopters rumbled by in salute. The jets had been grounded for the event because of federal budget cutbacks, officials said.
    But tradition followed suit for the rest of the event, right down to the mournful sound of "Amazing Grace," played by a member of the Southern Oregon Scottish Bagpipe Band.
    "The Navy and the Air Force ordered the weather," began master of ceremonies Mark Dalton, a first sergeant with the local Oregon Army National Guard unit.
    "The Coast Guard loves it; the Marines don't care," he added, prompting a round of laughter to ripple through the crowd.
    But Dalton, who served two tours in Iraq, was dead serious about the patriotic occasion.
    And he was quick to thank those who braved the inclement weather to attend,
    "We are not barbecuing right now," Dalton observed. "We are not watching a movie. We are not playing baseball. We come out here and sit, and take a sober moment to remember the honor and virtue of men and women in uniform."
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