It was a cold, wet, rainy day on Memorial Day, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of those assembled at the VA cemetery in Eagle Point. Rough estimates put the crowd at roughly 1,000 and vehicles lined the avenues within the cemetery boundaries, but they also lined Riley Road and spilled onto Stevens Road as well.
Despite the cool weather, spirits were high. The rain came and went, but most there remember days much worse from days of combat, where soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines didn’t get to choose to stay home only to perform duties on a more agreeable day.
Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Greg Walden, State Senator Dennis Richardson and Mayor Bob Russell were on hand to greet the group quietly assembled amongst the thousands of U. S. flags at gravesites. They were joined by Don Burman, SORCC and Sheri Parker-Smith who sang the national anthem. Wyden reminded us that freedom isn’t free. It takes the sacrifice of the brave servicemen and women that fight to keep the country free.
Thousands of Oregonians have served in the Middle East since beginning of conflict giving “the ultimate sacrifice,” as Wyden stated. He and Walden both praised the efforts of all service personnel and related stories of military personnel from the area that are buried in the cemetery. Wyden also noted that many veterans have had difficulty getting benefits due them, and promised that he would work to help those in need.
The faces of those in attendance were sober as they listened to the message, while some long, deeply buried thoughts came back to them. Many wore hats and vests, jackets and other memorabilia from former units. Many of the attendees saluted in smart military style, others covered their hearts as the flag was presented; no dry eye could be found when Amazing Grace was played by a lone piper on his bagpipe.
The VA is currently in the process of upgrading and improving the cemetery and the work shows as a commitment to service personnel. The grounds are in immaculate condition, befitting the final resting place of so many of our military deceased. Actions speak louder than words, and the amount of work put into the cemetery is testament to the commitment of the people in the country to service personnel.