By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
A persistent drizzle didn't dampen the spirits of spectators during Memorial Day ceremonies yesterday to honor war veterans.
More than 100 people huddled under a sea of umbrellas at the Crescent City cemetery to salute the fallen heroes, and another 40 people attended ceremonies at the Crescent City Harbor.
"I never see a flag floating in a breeze or soldiers marching without feeling a chill in my spine," said guest speaker and veteran Bill Parker as he acknowledged fallen American soldiers from World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Parker also paid tribute to veterans of "undeclared wars and now the terrorist search."
Master of Ceremony Jerry Johnson introduced Pastor David Lewis, who opened the proceedings with a prayer. Sarah Sampels read the poem "In Flanders Field," and Bob Cochran sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America The Beautiful" for the gathering.
The ceremony began with the color guard and the honor guard Passing Review of the Flags with enlisted and retired soldiers from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Jerry Cochran lit the eternal flame, which symbolizes the eternal spirit of the dead. Juanita Snider and Liz Murphy from the VFW Ladies Auxiliary placed a wreath and cross next to the eternal flame at the base of the flagpole.
Parker emphasized the spirit of the American soldier in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Sept. 11 shocked America into awareness," said Parker. As in the past, Parker said the nation's enemies underestimated American resolve. They said "Americans are soft and will quit and give up. These soft Americans stayed the course and they did it with courage and sacrifice."
The ceremony ended with Taps, played by buglers Scott Cook and Dennis Haddad, and the retiring of the flags. Many of the group proceeded to the Del Norte County Airport for a noon ceremony to replace the American flag, conducted by veterans Phil Smith and Fred Cox.
Later in the day, fishermen who lost their lives at sea were remembered during services at the Fishermen's Wives Hall. The Rev. James Goodman said a prayer and read passages from Genesis and Matthew to highlight the longevity and perils of the profession.
"Commercial fishing is a dangerous occupation and it takes brave men to pursue it again and again to feed their families," Goodman said. "It is one of the oldest occupations and a noble one. We are here today to honor and remember these brave men."
On guitar, Cochran sang and played "Jesus Savior Pilot Me" and "America The Beautiful." Cook and Haddad played Taps at the conclusion of the ceremony. After the ceremony, Cook, a veteran of the Korean War, said "We've all lost friends in the wars and it's an honor to play."