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It happens every Memorial Day.
Camera in hand, I go to the ceremony at the Healing Field bound and determined not to get misty eyed during the service.
After all, I’m a working, impartial journalist there to report and photograph, not participate.
Then someone says or does something that gets me going, my throat gets a lump and I have to pretend I have a speck of dirt in my eye.
This year was no different. I was fine for a while, snapping photos of praying and saluting veterans and their families while trying not to detract from the ceremony.
My resolve held firm through opening remarks, prayers and even a remarkably poignant message from Legion Department Commander Doug Farley, whose voice cracked time and again as he spoke.
“Remembering our fallen heroes once a year is not enough,” Farley said. “Their widows, children and parents remember them every day.”
With a son-in-law who has twice deployed to the Middle East and an Air Force daughter itching to go (please, God, don’t let that happen), that comment struck home, but my resolve stayed strong.
Then it happened. As the ceremony came to a close, the sad and hopefully soon unnecessary practice began of raising flags in the Healing Field to honor Kentuckians killed in the war on terrorism since last Memorial Day.
It’s hard enough to keep dry eyes during that, but downright impossible (for me, at least) when the parents of some of those soldiers are the ones raising the flags.
Included in Sunday’s ceremony were Mike and Laura Summers, Mount Olivet residents there to raise a flag for their son, Jeremy, who was killed last July in Afghanistan.
Words cannot describe how dignified, stoic and classy they were while doing what can only be described as indescribable.
They hoisted their son’s flag, saluted, thanked the men from Legion Post 7 in Frankfort who assisted and stood aside as too many other flags were raised.
During taps, the Summers faced the lonely bugle music echoing across the Healing Field, their hands clasped together and slightly behind them. One may have mistaken them for a middle-aged couple in love and holding hands in the park, if the circumstances weren’t remarkably different.
When it was over, the Summers again saluted their fallen son’s permanent memorial and drove away, returning to the home that will never again be visited by a son who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his nation.
From my vantage point, I saw neither of them shed a tear — my guess is that since last July they have probably shed all the tears parents could possibly have to shed.
So try as I might to do otherwise, I shed one for them.
Speaking of tears, an untold number have been shed right here in Anderson County for the following men who died during the war to end all wars, and those that followed.
Again this year their names were read during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremony, and appear here as a tribute to their sacrifice.
The only good thing about this list is that it hasn’t grown since last May. Let’s all pray that God keeps it that way in the year to come.
Local soldiers killed in WWI
John Ray Carter
William W. Hansel
Jesse D. Lowen
Henry A. Monroe
Jess Russell Morris
James N. Tucker
S. Lee Nelson Woodard
Local soldiers killed in WWII
William Robert Allen
Steve W. Beasley
James C. Bruner
Robert C. Coffey
John T. Corley Jr.
Chesley J. Corn
Cecil L. Cox
Thurston W. Cox Jr.
William M. Crossfield
Calvin L. Denton
Paul A. Goodlett
Jesse W. Harris
James C. Hawkins
William B. Jeffries
James E. Jordan
Lucian S. McBrayer
Edward C. McCarty
Marvin C. Murphy
Howard W. Niemeier Jr.
Karl A. O’Brien
William P. Perry
Coy Kenneth Sallee
Clayborne S. Sea
Haldon M. Stratton
Norman S. Stucker
Harlett B. Sutherland
William L. Vaught
William C. Williams
Local soldiers killed in Korean War
Paul S. Thurman
Local soldiers killed in Vietnam
Joe Eddy Bragg
Clayborn Willis Ashby Jr.
Chester G. Cox
David H. Wainscott
Soldiers killed in War on Terror
For more photos from Memorial Day, click this link.