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May 27, 2013

WITH RESPECT: Memorial Day services honor soldiers

Memorial Day services honor soldiers

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — He stood over the tombstone to honor veterans who died in the Vietnam War. As he read the names of his friends, he genuflected while a friend threw an arm over his shoulder.

Kenny Saunders was one of the many veterans who attended Memorial Day services in Clark and Floyd counties. At the Veterans Plaza on Market Street in New Albany, Saunders said he feels compelled to drive from Milltown so he can attend every year.

“It’s my duty to do it and honor my buddies who can’t be here,” Saunders said. “I lost a lot of good friends out there.”

Families of veterans, community members, active and retired military personnel came out to pay their respects to the men and women who died in conflicts all over the world.

But for some attending, they’d go home after seeing the name of a family member on the memorial. Chastity Crum, 25 of New Albany, said she lost her father, Christopher K. Hilgert, while he served in Somalia in 1993. About 48 hours after he arrived in the country, he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

She said she’s attended every year since, but likes the new portion of the service they added this year.

“I think this is the first time they’ve invited the families of the fallen up,” Crum said. “I kind of feel like everyone forgets. People are too busy with their everyday lives, but this is every day for us.”

In Sellersburg, a ceremony was held at Wilkinson Veterans Park. Veterans from every war since World War II attended.

Henry Nolet, a veteran who served from 1949 to 1953, said with a big family history of military service, he wanted to make sure he paid his respects.

“It’s just to honor the United States and the fallen,” Nolet said. “All of my family’s been in the service, including my dad.”

But some families in attendance at Sellersburg didn’t have as direct a connection to military service personnel. Rick Durham, a Sellersburg resident, said both of his sons have played taps at the service for about six years. He said it’s important to him to teach them the sacrifice veterans make for them.

“We’ve tried to instill in them that we owe everything we have to our veterans,” Durham said. “My father served in World War II and he is in our mind. We’re here because of our kids, but also because of my dad. We’re out for two generations.”

Jim Dexter, quartermaster for the VFW post 1693 in New Albany, said he hopes families took at least a little time out of their day off and celebrations to remember what war veterans had done for them and continue to do for the country.

“We all need to take a moment to really reflect on what Memorial Day means so we can live in the United States the way we live, the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

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