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Memorials of honored glory

About 60 people bowed their heads and sang “God Bless America” in remembrance of those whose lives were lost in service at a Memorial Day ceremony Monday in Bremerton.

“Let us raise above them our flag they saved in honor,” said Buck King, post commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 239.

The service was held in the military quadrant of Bremerton’s Ivy Green Cemetery next to the only full-size replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, modeled after the one at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier known but to God,” reads the tomb’s plaque where several of those gathered laid flowers as the Sweet Adeline Singers sang patriotic tunes.

Many of those attending were veterans of past wars, such as Gene Monroe who served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years and fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

“In looking out at all the people, I’m reminded of the saying ‘You can always tell the quality of a nation by the respect they give their war dead,’” Monroe said. “That’s why celebrations like Memorial Day are so important.”

Although he couldn’t attend the service, Bremerton’s Mayor Cary Bozeman wrote a proclamation that was read by City Council President Carol Arends.

“The veterans of Kitsap County, with their deep sense of patriotism, are to be congratulated for this ceremony,” Arends read aloud.

During the ceremony, featured guest speaker Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Commander Capt. Clarke Orzalli reminded the crowd there is a cost to the freedom America enjoys.

“Woe to the society that forgets freedom isn’t free and that which allows that freedom to atrophy,” Orzalli said. “When we think about our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, we refer to them as members of the service. We need to remember who they are serving - they’re serving us. I encourage each one of you to never forget you enjoy your freedom because of men and women who love their country more than their comfort.”

A number of the veterans who attended the service said they felt the ceremony was not only a wonderful event, but also an important American tradition.

“I think it’s very necessary we honor our veterans every year and every day of every year. They are the ones who helped us preserve our freedoms of everyday life,” said VFW Post 3694 Commander Donald Van-Hoozer, who served in the Navy and during World War II helped invade the islands of the Asiatic Pacific.

Many members of the Royal Canadian Legion also attended the ceremony in honor of the wars that America and Canada have fought in.

“It’s a fitting memorial to American, Canadian and British Allied soldiers (who) have fallen in the wars we have fought together,” said Legionnaire Harry Smerdon, who has been coming to the Bremerton ceremony with his wife for the last 10 years.

The service ended with the master of ceremonies, Bremerton City Councilman Mike Shepherd, telling the crowd to remember Memorial Day and keep it sacred while Mike Oliver played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

“It’s heartening for me to see so many folks come to our sermon,” said Shepherd, who is also a Vietnam Navy veteran and member of VFW Post 239.

“I appreciate the people coming out and honoring the flag I fought for,” said Clara Gange, a former Marine who was in World War II.

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