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Missoula Vet: Remember, But Celebrate, Too

Eric Whitney

More than two hundred people gathered at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula to mark Memorial day. It was one of dozens of ceremonies across the state.

Standing in front of flagpoles bearing the U.S. and Montana flags, and those of the four branches of the military, Senator Steve Daines helped dedicate Missoula’s ceremony to five men in particular.

"Today we especially honor the service and legacy of five Montana World War II veterans who have recently left us," Daines told the crowd.

Those men were Martin Behner, Frank Reneau, Mitsuru Saimo and the Roberts brothers, Raynor and Sam.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Army Sergeant Sam Redfern, a Missoula native who’s served two tours in Iraq. He said Memorial Day can be tough for veterans, but many also want Americans to celebrate.

"We want people to remember the price that’s been paid, but we also want them to enjoy the liberty, and freedom and family time that we’ve served for," Redfern said.

"My encouragement to veterans would be find that balance, and not for families to feel guilty about being together. We need families to just enjoy each other, but every family in this country and in this state should take a few minutes out of their day, or whatever they want to do, come to a ceremony, or do something to remind their family of the sacrifice that’s been made," he added.

The ceremony in Missoula included a helicopter flyover, a color guard from Missoula American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Civil Air Patrol and local boy scouts, and a rifle salute by VFW post 209.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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