Hundreds Honor Veterans In Tyler - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/31/04-Smith County

Hundreds Honor Veterans In Tyler

More than 1,000 people gathered at the Tyler Memorial Cemetery this morning. County Judge Becky Dempsey led the service. State Representative Leo Berman addressed the crowd, thanking all the men and women who serve our nation.

"As the American patriot Thomas Paine observed, those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it," Berman said.

A wreath laying ceremony followed with other county leaders like former District Judge Louis Gohmert and Sheriff J.B. Smith. The Marine Corps League of Dallas gave a 21-gun salute. The event also featured a medley of patriotic songs performed by the adult choir of Friendly Baptist Church of Tyler.

The young and old attended, spanning generations. They wanted to show their gratitude to those who have made a sacrifice for America.

"I just can't believe, you know, that these guys risked their lives for us," Holly Oden, 16, granddaughter of WWII veterans, said.

"They fought for our country so we can have freedom," Haleigh Watson, 7, granddaughter of a Korean War Veteran, said.

"They sacrificed their lives and they continue to do so today," Kenny Bybee, 20, the grandson of WWII veterans, said.

A new generation of Americans honor their grandfathers and others before them: World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.

"We're here because of them, and without them, I wouldn't be here today," Oden said.

"To honor the veterans who died for us," Haleigh Watson said.

"It's very humbling," William Watson, a Korean War veteran and Haleigh's grandfather, said. "It takes your mind back to when you were in war, when you were in the service."

For the past four years, William's son, Paul, has paid his respects through music.

"Memorial Day is kind of a special day, and the pride maybe go a little bit deeper today, patriotic feelings a little deeper on a day, special day like today," Paul, the service's bagpipe player, said. "But if we can just keep those feelings every day, be proud of our country, be proud of our soldiers over there doing their job right now."

"Thank you for all the veterans that served and just God bless America," Oden said.

"They don't know what freedom is until they lose it," William Watson said. "And hopefully, we'll never lose it."

Julie Tam, reporting.

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