Thousands of American flags covered the lawns Monday afternoon as hundreds of people gathered at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City honor past and present military members.
“I’ve attended five different services today, and each and every one of them, the attendance was spectacular, I think that’s very important and I’m very please that so many of our fellow citizens are joining us today. This is a day that we pay tribute to our fellow citizens that made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us can be here today. This is the day that we also speak and thank and pray for their family members and loved ones for having making that sacrifice along with their service man or woman and have a hole in their heart for the rest of their lives for their loss for our nation,” said Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.
We are paying honor and tribute to all of these young men and women with so much of their lives ahead of them that went to war and didn’t return with the others. No matter where they’re buried we owe them a great debt of gratitude for our freedoms and the very democracy that we have so much pride in.”
Following the opening invocation by Deacon Stephen Casmus, Chaplain, CWV Post 1947, the Civil Air Patrol Squadrons gave the presentation of colors.
Chairs filled the chapel at the cemetery and overflowed to both sides of the open patio. People stood outside the doors and lined against the walls as key note speakers gave words of remembrance and gratitude.
Among the key speakers were Senator Harry Reid, Senator Dean Heller, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Congressman Joe Heck and Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler.
During the course of the hour-long ceremony, each speaker stood up to share personal military stories of friends and family members.
With each new speech that was given more tears came to the eyes of veterans, and loved ones in attendance. Following the speeches each sets of veterans were honored and those who were present, stood up for a brief moment to be recognized.
Las Vegas resident, Tiffany Ferguson, who had family that served in the military, said she was surprised that one of the most touching sights of the day’s ceremony was seeing the age difference in those showing respect.
A musical performance of American the Beautiful, Military Medley and This is My Country was performed by the Nevada Opera Theater Chorus and Myron Heaton Chorale and upon closing the ceremony, Phil Esser sang God Bless America.
“Physically I am very broken, but mentally I am so proud that my son was the most knowledgeable and patriotic he was and he died doing what he loved,” said Farideh Ghane, whose son, Alexander Ghane, a graduate of Sierra Vista High School and a Navy Seal, was killed at age 19 during a training practice in 2008.
After the ceremony, families and friends of fallen military members wandered the gravesites at the cemetery, paying respect to all those who lost their lives
Roaming from one grave to the next, some visitors took a moment to sit with mourners at gravesites to hear stories of their loved ones and thank them for the sacrifices their families made.
“I appreciated this so much. What happened here today, it was one family and one unity and I wish that everybody lived like that everyday,” said Henderson resident, Peter Crooymans, who served in the military in Holland and was taken prisoner in Germany for one year. “I’m very happy that I was here today. I saw one big family.”