Under an overcast sky on Monday morning, about 200 people gathered around the flagpole at Claquato Cemetery to honor those who have lost their lives serving the United States in the armed forces.
After an opening prayer and a performance of the national anthem by Samantha Maynard, Chip Duncan, executive director of the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis, delivered an introduction to the audience before welcoming Lt. Bob Russell, a Navy veteran, to the podium to deliver the keynote speech.
During his remarks, Russell listed many of the men he knew who died serving their country. In addressing the audience, Russell emphasized the importance of remembering those who died in peacetime as well in wartime, specifically mentioning peacetime events in which American soldiers died, including the 1983 Beirut bombing and the U.S. military’s actions to restore the government of Grenada that same year.
Following Russell’s speech, wreaths were placed at the base of the flagpole by a range of individuals, including veterans and Boy Scouts.
One of the Boy Scouts involved in the placing of wreaths was J. C. Mersereau, 16. Mersereau, a Life Scout who serves as the senior patrol leader of Chehalis Troop 373, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to honor the country’s fallen soldiers.
“It was definitely an experience most people don't get so it was a fun and interesting experience,” Mersereau said.
Emme Prok, another member of the Boy Scouts who helped place a wreath under the flagpole on Monday, said she was honored to be able to participate in the ceremony.
“It means a lot to me because these people are willing to make such a big sacrifice,” Prok, 13, said.