SHERWOOD, Ark. (KTHV) – American Legion Post #74 honored fallen service members in a memorial ceremony on Saturday. Nine years after the start of the Iraq war, veterans still remember those who gave their lives in service.
"We are forever indebted to these young men and women for their service and ultimate sacrifice," said Gayla Lanum, American Legion Post #74 Administrative Assistant.
Arkansas has lost 104 men and women in the Iraq war. Dozens showed up to the Veteran's Cemetary to honor them and all others who served.
"We are mindful that there are still Americans unaccountable for in the various wars," said Commander R.D. Kinsey, American Legion Post #74.
State and city leaders stopped by to pay their respects.
"We gratefully acknowledge that we live in freedom today because of the many sacrifices that have been made and are being made today by the valiant service men and women in the armed forces," said Virginia Tillman, Sherwood mayor.
"The goal of this memorial is to always pay tribute to those who fought and died in the struggle against terrorism in order to preserve our country's freedom and democracy," said Mark Stodola, Little Rock mayor.
"The fact that they are willing to go, that they put on the uniform- It's important that we always remember that and respect that," said Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark. "I want them to know that we'll never forget."
March 29th was dedicated to Marine Michael Vann Johnson Jr., the first Arkansan to die in the Iraq war.
"He lives on through his legend you know," said SeRonna Rogers, a Johnson family friend.
Keynote Speaker Lieutenant Colonel Walter Carter Tucker recounted stories of bravery and read excerpts from his book "Men Who Fought…Boys Who Prayed. A Combat Chaplain's Story: Vietnam.
"Be not ashamed to say that you loved them, though you might not have always shown it," he read.
Born and raised in Monticello, Arkansas, the Vietnam veteran had a message for all who listened: to never forget each fallen soldier had a story.
"To know them all, you would have to know these stones and those similar to them cry out from a thousand places," Tucker said.
"His family is proud to know that his legacy is never going to be forgotten," Rogers said of Johnson. "He's never going to be forgotten."
American Legion Post #74 remembered above all that all gave, but some gave all.