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Memorial Day ceremonies honored those who served

Candles were lit in honor of 18 Perham area veterans who have died over the past 12 months. Eighteen candles in all--most of them aging veterans who served in the Second World War. It was a solemn Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at Perhams Calvary L...

Candles were lit in honor of 18 Perham area veterans who have died over the past 12 months.

Eighteen candles in all--most of them aging veterans who served in the Second World War.

It was a solemn Memorial Day ceremony May 29 at Perhams Calvary Lutheran Church.

The candle-lighting and flag folding ceremonies were a somber testimony to fallen comrades during wartime and peacetime. In Iraq, 810 have been killed in the line of duty since last Memorial Day. More than 2,500 have died since the beginning of the war, noted Chaplain Larry Kempenich, who asked that they be remembered in our prayers, as well as the troops that are serving over there today.

This is not just a day off of work to go to the lake, but a day to remember and pay respect to those who served, said Matthew Hurt, a National Guardsman who was the guest speaker. Stateside, Hurt repairs armored tanks, Bradleys and Humvees, at Camp Ripley. For the past 11 months, however, his finger was on a trigger rather than a monkey wrench--serving as a Humvee gunner in Iraq, protecting a high-ranking battalion commander.

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As a Guardsman, I am proud to remember our fallen comrades...who they were and what they stood for, said Hurt, who signed on with the Guard at age 17--The summer before he graduated from Perham High School, in 2002.

Memorial Day honors not only those who have fallen but those who are living, said Calvary Lutheran Church president Craig Swanson in his welcome remarks. He asked that those in attendance pledge themselves to serve God and their country as instruments of peace, which was followed appropriately with the entire group singing Let There be Peace on Earth.

Patriotic songs were lead by Daidre Klinnert and accompanied by pianist Russ Bunker. Music by the Perham High School band was featured, along with sing-alongs by more than 200 were uplifting moments of the program.

As the band played a medley of songs from all five branches of the Armed Forces, band director Adam Tervola-Hultberg asked veterans to stand to be recognized. Army veterans in the room were, as usual, the most numerous with about 16. At least eight former sailors stood for the U.S. Navy. A loan U.S. Marine. Paul Ceynowa, stood for the Marine hymn. And, as is often the case here in the heartland, there were no Coast Guard veterans.

The ceremony and lunch was hosted by Perham VFW Post 4020 and American Legion Post 61, and Auxiliaries.

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