Ceremonies mark Memorial Day gatherings | NevadaAppeal.com

Ceremonies mark Memorial Day gatherings

F.T. Norton

Barbara Atkins, left, and her grandduaghter, Rachel Smith, 6, plant flowers picked from Atkins' garden at the grave of Atkin's husband who served during WWII and the Korean Conflict before dying four years ago. Photo by Birna Corley

From a tiny gathering of eight people at the Virginia City Cemetery, to 24 standing silently during taps at Stewart Indian Cemetery, to the nearly 200 attending a ceremony replete with red, white and blue balloons released to drift skyward at Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Carson Country on Monday honored those veterans past and present who served in the United States military.

Harold Holder and his wife, Anna Marie, were two of the eight who attended the modest Virginia City ceremony. Holder recently bought Sharkey’s in Gardnerville.

“We’ve been in town two and a half years and this is our third trip up here,” he said. “We came up here the first time and were so touched by this small salute and so we’ve been back every year.”

Holder, 70, served in the Marine Corps from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean Conflict. He brought with him Monday his green wool blanket, from his stint as a Marine — on which Anna Marie had sewn Marine Corps patches — and laid it on the ground during the ceremony. As the flags marched past, Holder snapped to a sharp salute.

“When I first came up here, there were a lot more people. We all have different lives. Some of us have been to jail, some of us are successful, some of us have not been successful, but for this moment, we’re all brothers again,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears.

At the Stewart Indian Cemetery, cemetery keepers were laying flowers out on the graves, but as the colors of the American Flag marched past carried by Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Carson High School, they too joined in the solemn moment.

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Pat Wyble, president of the auxiliary for the Marine Corps League, was moved by a tombstone for Charles Sanchez on which a copy of the World War II Marine corporal’s discharge paperwork was embossed in brass below his name.

“How touching is that?” She asked sighing.

“After Sept. 11, Memorial Day is a lot more special. People are more aware and hopefully they’ll continue their awareness to show their loyalty and patriotism to the flag and the country,” said Commandant David Wyble Sr. of the Marine Corps League, organizers of the the memorials.

At Lone Mountain Cemetery, following the Marine Corps League ceremony, Carson City put on its own memorial with guest speakers: Mayor Ray Masayko; Supervisor Pete Livermore; Brownie Troop 157 reciting the Gettysburg Address; civil war volunteer Larry Steinberg; Women’s Army Corps Chaplain Gwen Hadel; and, Stacy Jennings of the Nevada Sagebrush Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Cemetery Sexton Dave Stultz lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Bruce Kochsmeier of the First Presbyterian Church did the benediction.

Members of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard, lead by Sgt. Ken Sandage, laid a wreath for law enforcement and fire fighters who have died in the line of duty.

“Today we honor the services of uniformed public service officials along with those from various wars in the military. I think whether your wearing a uniform as a public safety official or you are wearing a uniform in service to our country, you have similar duties and obligations in protecting our freedom,” Masayko said. “That became no clearer than on Sept. 11, 2001 when over 400 uniformed public service officials were killed in the World Trade Center collapse. That was the beginning of the war on terrorism.”

As bagpipes played Amazing Grace following the gun salute, those in attendance released red, white and blue balloons.

“I take extreme pleasure in looking at the C Hill monument of the American Flag,” Livermore told the crowd. “That flies every day in memory of our great democracy.”