With the waters of the swollen North Fork River roaring below, members of American Legion Wilson Head Post 97 held their annual ceremony at the Grand Avenue Bridge Monday while a small group of observers bowed their heads and held their hands over their hearts.
"Help us to remember with reverence the valor and devotion of our departed comrades," said Joe Kaputa, a former U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam. "Not only those whose bodies consecrate our country's soil, but also those who sleep beyond the seas, and those others whose resting places will not be known until the last day when the deep will have given up its dead."
The Legion also held ceremonies and placed wreaths at the Somerset, Cedar Hill and Bethlehem cemeteries. Family members and American Legion and Legion Auxiliary volunteers placed flags at the graves of the area's veterans and family members and shared memories about their lives.
"Keep us steadfast in the cause of human rights and liberties, of law and order and true Americanism," recited Kaputa at each of the ceremonies. "Give us the power to see, and the will to do right. Grant that the American Legion may preserve the high ideal for which our comrades died."
Legion Auxiliary member Toni Kocjancic traveled from Denver to visit her mother, Charlotte Kocjancic. Toni has been an auxiliary member for 45 years, said Charlotte. The two women laid wreaths at each of the cemeteries, and Toni dropped a cross wreath into the North Fork River to honor the veterans who served on the seas.
"May Thy merciful blessing rest upon those left behind," said Kaputa before the wreath was dropped in the water and Honor Guard members fired their rifles in salute of the fallen. "Keep us forever in firm righteousness, humble of heart, and unselfish in purpose."