Tyler's Memorial Day service draws hundreds, honors living and fallen heroes

Tyler's Memorial Day service draws hundreds, honors living and fallen heroes

Hundreds gathered at the Memorial Park Cemetery Monday morning along Highway 64 to commemorate Veterans Day.

Memorial day is a tradition that dates back to 1868. It started as a time for decorating the graves belonging to Civil War soldiers. Since then the holiday has expanded to cover more wars and more friends and family members who died to keep the rest of us safe.

Veterans from the Greatest Generation marched alongside veterans from the current one--all of them mindful of the friends they lost.

"They are commonly called POWs, MIAs and KIAs," a Korean War veteran said. "We call them brothers."

The stories of bravery and danger heard mondaMondayed almost out of place in the country these warriors defended.

"They were ordered to move to 322's assistance and began a night march through the jungle," Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said of a close friend's deployment.

"The permanence of death in battle is no different in 2014 than it was in 1775," Lt. Cmdr. Matt Schaefer of the U.S. Naval Reserve said. "Bullets still tear flesh. Bombs still cut off limbs and disfigure the body."

At 82 years old Eva Langford was attending the ceremony for the first time. Not too long ago she lost her husband to the effects of agent orange.

"63 very good years," she said of her marriage to Jay Langford. "You know, I would stay 63 more if he was here."

Jay had been a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, and for that Eva is grateful.

"We would be overturned with people trying to take our country," she said. "If it hadn't been for them, they would have. I'm sure of that."

"I've always considered it a privilege to have been able to serve," Ret. Cprl. Bob Perry said.

Perry spent his seventeenth and eighteenth birthdays in Korea. He said he was lucky to make it back.

"I tell the kids, I say kids, if it wasn't for the greatest generation, you'd be speaking German or Japanese right now," Perry said. "I try to impress upon them the sacrifices our young women and men have made."

Perry and others set a ceremonial table for the men and women who never made it back. There was a chair for every branch of the military, a white table cloth symbolizing the purity of the intention to protect the country and the glasses were upside down symbolizing those unable to lift them up to toast.

All of that was combined into a single message.

"Remember, freedom is not free," one speaker said. "Never has been and never will be."


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