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Residents honor veterans at local cemetery

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EUREKA- There are 58,195 names on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Fifty-two of those names are of Humboldt County residents. On Monday more than 400 people gathered at Ocean View Cemetery to honor those fallen soldiers, as well as all American veterans.

“Sometimes it's difficult because we remember those we cared about so much and served together with,” Vietnam veteran Allen Keppner said.  “But it's an opportunity to honor them, to remember them and say thank you for helping us who did come home, be able to do that.”

The Memorial Day Program, in its 25th year, hosted a variety of musical guests including the Humboldt Harmonaires, a local a cappella group, and bagpipe music by Rod Ross.

The ceremony also featured military honors led by the Mad River Community Honor Guard.

“This is our time to honor the fallen,” Ocean View Cemetery Administrator Don McCombs said. “The families start coming out here, starting about last Monday. They'll be coming out through the rest of the week.”

The program’s guest speaker was Mona Daly, the Board President of North Coast Stand Down. Daly talked about the help North Coast Stand Down gives to local veterans and what citizens can do to help the cause.

“Every veteran deserves more than just a ‘thank you for your service,’” Daly said.

While at the event, visitors were also able to walk along the Avenue of Flags. The Avenue makes up the entirety of the cemetery’s road ways, consisting of 200 large-sized flags. These flags were once on the coffins of deceased veterans and were donated by their family members.

During the ceremony, the Avenue of Flags was dedicated to World War Two veteran, Herb Wall. Wall was present during the flag raising at Iwo Jima and has a long history of military service.

“Herb has been coming out to our events for years and as soon as anybody thought of his name we mentioned, everyone went what a great idea,” McCombs said.

For the other veterans present, the event was much deeper than just a ceremony.

“I’ve found it very enlightening, sometimes very spiritual and meaningful to those who served.”

For some, though it may sometimes be emotionally trying to attend, the ceremony is necessary.

“It's difficult at best when we remember,” Keppner said. “But if we don't remember, we will repeat our mistakes. It’s important that we honor those that have sacrificed so much, who sacrificed all of their tomorrows for our todays.”