Nation pays tribute to fallen warriors on Memorial Day

At Durham's Maplewood Cemetery, members of American Legion Post 7 honored the dead with a 21-gun salute and a wreath. (WTVD Photo/Anthony Wilson)

May 29, 2012 8:54:43 AM PDT
Across the Triangle and across the country Monday, the nation paused to pay tribute to members of our armed forces who have given their lives for their country.

At Durham's Maplewood Cemetery, members of American Legion Post 7 honored the dead with a 21-gun salute and a wreath. Sunday, the group spent the day placing flags on the graves of veterans.

"We're here to salute all of those people. Without them, America wouldn't be what it is today," offered Vietnam War veteran Richard Beals.

"A lot of people sacrificed for this country. It isn't just the fighting men, it's the families of the fighting men, the friends of the fighting men, the people who didn't have to fight, but could have been put into battle," explained Korean War veteran Joel Lipsey.

In Raleigh, the Tar Heel Detachment of the Marine Corps League for the greater Raleigh area held a Memorial Day Ceremony on the N.C. State Capital grounds. Retired Major General David Heinz helped carry the wreath and made a speech honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Veterans who attended said they feel Memorial Day events are important.

"I hope they see the support that the American people gives to our fallen heroes. And they are heroes, and they know there's a whole cadre of military folks who are still there, still serving, and have served," explained veteran Suellen Beaulieu.

In Fayetteville, people gathered at Freedom Park. Spring Lake also held its annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony, while Hope Mills held its annual event at the Armed Forces monument.

At Arlington National Cemetery Monday, President Barack Obama also paid tribute to the men and women who have died defending America, saying that for the first time in nine years Americans "are not fighting and dying in Iraq" and the war in Afghanistan is "winding down."

But he also conceded the pain of war lingers for the families of those lost in battle, and Obama noted that mourners can be seen daily at Arlington National Cemetery daily, not just on Memorial Day.

Obama spoke to an audience gathered under a brilliant sun, saying "these 600 acres are home to Americans from every part of the country who gave their lives in every part of the globe."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, preceding Obama, said "all the men and women who rest here are a constant reminder that freedom is not free."

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