EAGLE POINT — Two widows lingered among the newest monuments at Eagle Point National Cemetery on Monday.

EAGLE POINT — Two widows lingered among the newest monuments at Eagle Point National Cemetery on Monday.

As the hundreds paying their respects to those who sacrificed their best years — and sometimes their lives — dispersed, Tonia Peterson and Sandie Shinkle of Josephine County reminisced about their husbands amid the markers above Riley Road.

Jeffrey Peterson served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, where he saw a steady procession of coffins returning to Treasure Island Naval Air Station near San Francisco.

"He was in the honor guard that received those boys in their late teens and early 20s," Peterson said.

"It was an emotional thing for him."

Only late in his life did the Wilderville resident come to grips what it meant for her husband to serve.

"I didn't know him in those years, but when the (replica of the Vietnam Memorial) wall came to Grants Pass a few years ago," she said, "I started asking questions and he showed me on the map where he had served his tour."

For every widow, parent, child and friend there was a unique story, a different perspective and memory Monday.

During the memorial service at the cemetery, State Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, talked about the exploits of Revolutionary War hero Anthony Wayne. Jim Willis, Oregon's director of veterans' affairs, recalled a friend of his daughter's who fell in Iraq. Retired Marine Col. Dave Dotterer spoke of painful pilgrimages, where no speech, tribute or gesture could equal the sacrifice of loved ones. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mark Dalton, who has taken part in memorial services for more than 3,000 veterans, noted the event marked a "loss of life which we hold most precious."

He also reminded the Naval Sea Cadets, Young Marines and others on hand that such events may well be in their future.

"This puts things in a larger perspective in what life is about as an American and what it has taken to get where we are," said Jeanette Bournival, a Rogue Valley Manor resident who attended the observance with her husband and two other veterans. "It helps you to get out of the self and into what others have given."

A tapestry of thousands of miniature flags shimmered on the cemetery's grassy rise providing symmetry and solemnity.

"When you look at all the flags, you know that resonates with the children and wives," said Leslie Ghiglieri, whose parents are buried here. "How can you come here and not feel grateful?"

Her father was a lieutenant colonel in the South Pacific during World War II and her mother did clerical work for the military. Along with her husband, Andy, Ghiglieri came to the cemetery both to remember her parents and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

"Today was about remembrance, reflecting, taking time to think about the commitment and willingness to give everything," said Ghiglieri, who lives outside Jacksonville.

Dozens of youngsters were on hand to watch the generations before them honoring their forbearers.

"People tend to think of the World War II generation as more patriotic, but when you see the young people here, that's encouraging," she said. "They are aware of the threat to liberty and peace that is ongoing."

Jose and Coni Cacho of Eagle Point savored the moment well after many had departed.

Jose Cacho is a first-generation American, whose descendants followed his steps into military service. His son, Jose II, is buried in the Eagle Point National Cemetery.

"A lot of people say this is a holiday," Cacho said. "It's not, it's day of remembrance. I can relate to this event now. Before, it meant different things to me, but now that my son's here, I know the true meaning."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.