Community gathers at Tyler Memorial Park and Funeral Home to honor soldiers’ sacrifice

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 2:18 PM CDT|Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Hundreds came to Tyler Memorial Park and Funeral Home today to honor those who died during their service to our country.

Today’s annual ceremony had one of the higher turnouts and people were able to be back in person after a virtual service last year due to the pandemic.

“Thank God for those who have been willing to and have served us, and thank those who have served and especially paid the ultimate sacrifice, for loving our country enough to do that,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert, who was one of a handful of speakers today sharing stories and honoring those who have died while serving our country.

Dennis Bennett served in the U.S. Air Force from 1957 to 1961 and says he’s remembering his brothers today.

“They gave their lives for us. I think there’s too many that possibly don’t understand what it’s all about and don’t realize what these ones that we see the flags and the graves, what they did. They gave it all, and so I come to honor them,” Bennett said.

The East Texas Men in Harmony provided music for the ceremony.

Dr. Doug Haning is the chaplain of Smith County Sheriff’s Office and Tyler Police Department and spoke at today’s ceremony. He says he’s got a long history of family that have served.

“Showing your gratitude to the veterans that are here, those who survived, as well as those Gold Star parents and family members who lost their loved ones, saying ‘Hey, your sacrifice isn’t in vain. We appreciate that and we recognize what you’ve done,’” Hanging said.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said he is honoring family members that did not return from serving and his friend, Donny Tidwell from New Diana, who was also a pitcher for the Dodgers before serving.

“He went to Vietnam on Good Friday in 1968. He was killed in the line of duty in Vietnam and he had everything going for him. He volunteered, he wasn’t drafted, he volunteered,” Smith said. Having the contract with the Dodgers and everything didn’t mean as much to him as serving his country.”

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