More than 200 residents gather for Memorial Day service |

More than 200 residents gather for Memorial Day service

Collin Smith
Mara Beckett, 3, sits on the shoulders of her father, Martin Beckett, on Monday during the Memorial Day service at Craig Cemetery. Mara is holding a bouquet for her grandfather, Delf A. Martinez, and great-grandfather, Eliseo Martinez, both Army veterans, who are buried at the cemetery. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265, American Legion Post 62 and the Sons of the American Legion hosted the service, which was open to anyone wishing to pay their respects to veterans.
Hans Hallgren

Barely a few sounds could be heard over a gathering of more than 200 people at Craig Cemetery on Monday morning.

Only the flat caws of crows, soft wails from a baby and piercing squeaks from a large American flag being raised to half-mast were cast over the crowd.

There was a rolling, melancholy wind that made the scene cold, but not biting.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265, American Legion Post 62 and Sons of the American Legion stood at attention.

When a recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played over loud speakers, the entire assembly of people either held their hats or their hands across their hearts, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance in unison.

Then, Bill Harding, Moffat County Veterans Service Officer, approached the microphone.

He said, “I want to thank everyone who came out today to honor our dead.”

Veterans Day and Memorial Day are different, Harding told the people. Veterans Day is an exultant celebration of those who have made the sacrifices that keep America protected, safe and free.

Memorial Day is a sober remembrance of the real cost of those sacrifices for the soldiers and their families and friends, Harding said.

At Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, Calif., 500 volunteers have spent the last week taking turns to read over the names of more than 150,000 fallen soldiers.

“We are fortunate here to be reading 500 names in this cemetery,” Harding said, looking down at the spread of miniature American flags stuck in the ground next to veterans’ tombstones.

As he and other local veterans read through the list, the names of well-known families with long-chronicled histories in Northwest Colorado came out in the same breath as lesser known families.

Steele, Kawcak, Charchalis.

Lopez, Golan, Picard.

It seemed no one said a word for a full hour, until every name was called.

“This is a sad day,” Harding said afterward. “It’s a day for those of us still here to look at those who have passed on to give us what we got.”

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