By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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More than 100 people formed a crescent around Veterans Circle, a portion of the cemetery at the south end reserved for veterans.
It was covered in small flags as members of several Port Angeles veterans’ organizations placed wreaths at a memorial in the center of the circle.
“To those who gave their lives on land, at sea, and in the air,” said Venay Money, president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary 1024, as she placed a wreath.
An honor guard from the Mount Olympus Detachment of the Marine Corps League gave a 21-gun salute. A Marine Corps bugler played taps.
Bagpiper Thomas McCurdy closed the ceremony with a performance of “Amazing Grace,” and a bouquet of red, white and blue balloons was released.
The brief ceremony was kept short and simple, and many of the remembrances were far more private than the public ceremony.
Gene Richardson, 69, of Port Angeles stood by himself between two flags, well away from the larger group of onlookers.
Richardson was an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, “in the Delta,” he said.
Remembering the dead is different for people who were in the war zones, Richardson said.
“I was there last night. It becomes part of your life. Memorial Day is a day to remember more than you usually do. Those who were there remember them every day,” he said.
After the ceremony, many people wandered about the graves, leaving flowers and remembering the veterans’ sacrifices.
Hundreds of small flags were placed on every identified veteran’s grave by volunteers, including members of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Roughrider Company, from Port Angeles High School, both inside the Veterans Circle, and dotting the lawns beyond the circle.
Caryl Correll, 89, cleaned the grave marker belonging to his mother, Mildred Correll, and placed red, white and blue flowers with the help of and his daughter, Gloria Holm, 65.
Correll’s was not one with a flag, but Memorial Day is a good day to remember all of those who have been lost, Holm said.
DAR Chaplain Carol Weiler wandered the graves, looking for that of a friend who had died a few years ago.
She stopped at a grave, covered with lilacs, in addition to the flag placed there, and became thoughtful.
“One of these days, it’s going to be you,” she said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.