Memorial Day extended into Tuesday at Carson High School where Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., honored a 1986 graduate who died in the line of duty.
"War is tragic," Ensign told a group of students assembled in the library. "There are lives lost, but there are heroes that come out of the battles. Anybody who serves in the military and pays the ultimate sacrifice, that's what Memorial Day is all about."
Ensign decided to visit the high school after speaking on the telephone to Anne Bayer, the widow of Lt. Cmdr. Bayer, 34, who died March 28 in a helicopter crash near Lake Isabella, Calif., during a search and rescue exercise.
"She has literally been a rock to her family," he said. "Just to talk to somebody like her was inspirational to me."
Bayer left behind a year-old daughter, Gabriella, and another child on the way.
"She told me her children will know their father," Ensign related.
To help keep Bayer's memory alive, Ensign presented the family with a framed copy of the U.S. Senate Congressional Record where both he and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke of Bayer on the Senate floor.
Ensign told students about Bayer's life, beginning with his first word "jet," and how he grew to become a Navy jet pilot with dreams of one day pioneering travel to Mars.
"He was the type of person we should be so proud of as Americans," Ensign said. "He was willing to lay down his life for you and me."
The students made the connection.
"I feel proud because a good person died for us," said Luis Mayoral, 18. "He went to this high school."
Ensign presented the school with a flag from the U.S. Capitol then fielded questions from the students ranging from queries about Yucca Mountain to his favorite ice cream.
He said Nevadans should know for sure within two months whether waste will be stored in the state. And his favorite ice cream is Starbuck's java toffee.
"It's unbelievable," he said.