Richard Milz Memorial Day 2013

Richard Milz Memorial Day 2013

From Richard Milz via Fox news

Americans gathered at memorials, museums and monuments and the president laid  a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen service members on  Memorial Day, as combat in Afghanistan approaches 12 years and the ranks of  World War II veterans dwindle.

“Let us not forget as we gather here today that our nation is still at war,”  President Barack Obama said after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the  Unknowns.

“When they give their lives, they are still being laid to rest in cemeteries  in quiet corners across our country, including here in Arlington,” he said. He  told the stories of three soldiers who had died. Each had been devoted to their  mission and were praised by others for saving lives.

Earlier in the morning, he and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a breakfast  at the White House with “Gold Star” families of service members who have been  killed.

Another wreath-laying ceremony was at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms  Park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City. The park is a  tribute to President Roosevelt’s famous speech calling for all people to enjoy  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from  fear.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined military leaders and others at the Soldiers’  and Sailors’ Monument in Manhattan. He later encouraged New Yorkers to celebrate  the day and the good weather but also “remember the sacrifice that was made so  that we could be here.”

At the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, about 20 bicyclists  clustered around veteran and museum volunteer Tom Blakey. The paratrooper in the  82nd Airborne Division jumped at Normandy on D-Day — June 6, 1944 — and in May  1945 helped liberate the work camp at Wobbelin in northwest Germany.

“Most of us wondered why we were there, killing people and being killed,” he  said. “We didn’t do anything to deserve it. When we got to that camp and saw  what was there, the lights came on.”

The cycling group makes regular weekend training runs, and on Monday started  a Memorial Day ride about seven miles away at the national cemetery in  Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans — the last in the War of 1812 — was  fought.

“I’m glad I took this ride to hear a personal story,” Scott Gumina, 41, said.  “Hearing one man’s account of his personal experience was pretty impressive to  me.”

In South Sioux City, Neb., a statue honoring a Navy dog handler was unveiled  in his hometown. The statue of John Douangdara (dwung-DEHR’-ah) and his dog,  Bart, is part of a five-acre dog park that’s named for Douangdara. Petty Officer  1st Class Douangdara died along with 29 other Americans in August 2011 when a  military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

Across much of New England, several days of heavy rain gave way to sunny  skies for parades in towns large and small.

In Portland, Maine, kids and even pets displayed the Stars and Stripes as  veterans, youth groups law enforcement officials and civic organizations paraded  to Monument Square to the tunes of a marching band, sirens from a police car and  the rumble of motorcycles.

“It’s a very important day, not only for the Veteran of Foreign Wars but  every veteran organization, every branch of the service, and every patriot in  general — every American. This day is hugely significant and should never be  forgotten,” said David Olson, 66, of Portland, the VFW’s state senior vice  commander.

For some veterans, it was a somber event.

Richard Traiser, a Marine injured when his tank came under attack in Vietnam,  helped deliver a three-volley salute with the Marine Corps League.

Memorial Day gives those who served an opportunity to get together and  remember friends who didn’t make it.

“I think about them a lot, especially the people I lost in my platoon,”  Traiser said. “I don’t dwell on it in a morbid way, but it’s on your mind.”

In Connecticut, a Waterford man who was killed in the Vietnam War was honored  with a hometown park area named for him. Arnold E. Holm Jr., nicknamed “Dusty,”  was killed when his helicopter was shot down on June 11, 1972.

In suburban Boston, veterans gathered in a park to mark Memorial Day this  year rather than hold a parade because of failing health and dwindling numbers.  The city of Beverly called off its parade because so few veterans would be able  to march. The parade has been a fixture in the town since the Civil War.

In Atlanta, a dedication of the History Center’s redone Veterans Park was  scheduled for early evening. Soil from major battlefields will be scattered by  veterans around the park’s flagpole.

The holiday weekend also marked the traditional start of the U.S. vacation  season. AAA, one of the nation’s largest leisure travel agencies, expected 31.2  million Americans to hit the road over the weekend, virtually the same number as  last year. Gas prices were about the same as last year, up 1 cent to a national  average of $3.65 a gallon Friday.

At the American Airpower Museum on Long Island, N.Y., a program honored Women  Air Service Pilots, or WASPs, who tested and ferried completed aircraft from  factories to bases during World War II. Thirty-eight died during the war,  including Alice Lovejoy of Scarsdale, N.Y., who was killed on Sept. 13, 1944, in  a midair collision over Texas.

“It’s very important that we recognize not only their contribution to  American history, but women’s history,” said Julia Lauria-Blum, curator of the  WASP exhibit at the museum. “These women really blazed a path; they were  pioneers for women’s aviation. And most important, they gave their lives serving  their country and must be honored like anyone else on Memorial Day.”

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