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PHOTOS: DAV hosts Memorial Day tribute

“This is the quiet time.”

It was the opening line to a missive written by a Marine Corps veteran, who was striving to express just how Memorial Day affected him and his fellow former military service members.

Though it seems a time of celebration to many, Memorial Day is in fact a time for remembrance, marking the deaths of each and every man and woman who fought and died in defense of America. It is a day to contemplate the gift of those sacrifices, to truly reflect upon the gift of freedom, granted by the blood and bravery of those willing to go to war to protect it. For the Disabled American Veterans Chapter #15, the true meaning behind the observance is never forgotten and once again, the group hosted a ceremony in honor of America’s fallen this Memorial Day.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, May 30, DAV Chapter #15 Commander Bill Dolan welcomed those who had assembled at the Veterans Memorial inside the Chief Tecopa Cemetery for the solemn ceremony, taking a moment to recognize the local dignitaries and veterans’ organization leaders in attendance. Fellow DAV member Dr. Tom Waters then took over as master of ceremonies, inviting DAV Chaplain Leon Samuel to give the opening prayer.

The presentation of the colors followed, with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard bearing the flags of both Nevada and the United States while the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Curtain lent his voice to the event, singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” before Air Force veteran Jerry Paradise took to the microphone for what was perhaps the most somber moment of the ceremony, the reading of “My Reflections on the True Meaning of Memorial Day”.

Written by Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Stephen Pittman, “Reflections” was read aloud by Air Force veteran Jerry Paradise.

“‘This is the quiet time. This is not the time for joy and parties and festivities. I do not want to hear about your special sales and deals this weekend. It is a time for reflection, to honor, to remember, to grieve,’” Paradise recited.

“‘We who remain feel loss, anger, sorrow, emptiness and guilt. These feelings do not diminish with time. If anything, they overwhelm us at this time of the year,’” he continued. “‘All of the moving ahead, the carrying on, the dealing with it, we do for 51 weeks away comes crashing down, leading us up to this day of remembrance. We can pretend we are strong and put on a good face as we march through life. However, beneath the calm exterior, the grief is building pressure, looking for a way out.

“‘So when we looked upon a grave, or a memorial, or a statue of a hero, the floodgates opened and it all comes out. Do not think me weak when I cry at a grave of an unknown warrior. You do not know the effort it takes, the strength it requires, to hold back the tears the other 364 days a year. I find strength in the fellowship of my brothers in arms, for they have the same feelings, the same memories, the same sorrows, and I will support and love them as they support me. No, I will not celebrate on Memorial Day. This is a time for quiet,’” an emotional Paradise concluded.

The epistle was obviously moving for not just Paradise but for the entire audience and tear-laden eyes could be seen throughout the crowd.

DAV member Cathy Girard, who was elected as the DAV state commander this year, then undertook the wreath ceremony, which was followed by the single guest speaker for the evening, Nye County Commissioner and Air Force veteran Frank Carbone. DAV Sr. Vice Commander Richard Goldstein conducted the ID/Dog Tag ceremony and Girard assisted with the POW/MIA ceremony, with the help of Waters and bell ringer Luke Putman. The closing prayer and a rendition of “Taps” closed out the ceremony.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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