American Legion honor soldiers during Memorial Day salute
American Legion Commander Ron Tremor plays the trumpet during the raising of the flag. (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)
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A group of residents and their families gather in the middle of the cemetery on Memorial Day to take part in a special presentation given by the local chapter of the American Legion. The program honored fallen soldiers and veterans.
“We appreciate you being here,” said American Legion Commander Ron Tremor. “You’re among the minority who really honor this day in the way it should be honored in remembering our service men and women, particularly those who have fallen. I’m sure there are many here who have served in the military. There are many of you who are here because you have loved ones buried here in this cemetery. I want to let you know that me and my fellow legionnaires are proud and very pleased to be here to honor our comrades who lie here in this cemetery.”
After raising the flag to full staff, legionnaire Robert DeLuca read a poem titled “A Grateful Nation,” written by Tremor. A special Memorial Day speech was given by legionnaire Bruce Thorn.
“We’re here today to honor those who served us, served our country, our states and our communities,” Thorn said. “We’re deeply honored to stand with you in commemorating the sacrifices of those military men and women who laid down their lives for this great nation.”
Thorn acknowledged those in the audience who have lost loved ones who have served in the military, either while on active duty or otherwise.
“You can never, no matter how much time has passed—it’s very difficult to say you’ve gotten over the passing of a husband, a son, a daughter, a sister or brother,” Thorn said. “No words of condolence can even adequately console the survivor’s grief.”
Thorn explained only 600 individuals have received the Medal of Honor, the most prestigious personal military award given to individuals who have distinguished themselves with acts of valor. Thorn said very few of those recipients have been alive to receive the honor themselves, but rather it is given to a member of the soldier’s family.
“Those who selflessly sacrificed their lives in an attempt to assist their comrades in arms, individuals like Marine Corp Capt. James Graham,” Thorn said. “Graham led a fierce assault on an enemy position in Vietnam in June of 1967, saving his platoon from annihilation. Even though he was wounded, he sent the rest of his unit forward to safety. In his last radio transmission, Capt. Graham reported he was under assault by 25 other individuals. But he stayed his post and did his best but was killed while doing so.”
Thorn also told the story of Army Sgt. Donn Porter, who faced military and artillery fire in the Korean War in September 152. He engaged in close combat when his outpost was attacked by two hostile platoons. Though Porter was killed, his actions thwarted a surprise attack on the main line of resistance, forcing the enemy to break off the engagement.
“These individuals, and so many like them, live on as some of the most courageous heroes of our history,” Thorn said. “Those in the military and veteran communities know that we must ensure that these individuals are never forgotten and their actions stay alive in our memories.”
After reading the names of all of the veterans from the Riverton area, the American Legion concluded the presentation with a gun salute and the playing of taps. Thorn encouraged audience members to remember the veterans who served.
“As you leave here today and go about the rest of your day, keep the fallen in your minds and keep their families in your heart, for it is their immense collective sacrifice that has help our country remain safe and free,” Thorn said.