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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Community honors fallen heroes

  • Hundreds of veterans, civilians and military members gathered to honor and remember fallen heroes of the area at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Fort Leonard Wood Missouri Veterans Cemetery.
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  • Hundreds of veterans, civilians and military members gathered to honor and remember fallen heroes of the area at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Fort Leonard Wood Missouri Veterans Cemetery.
    Guest speakers at the event included U.S. Rep Vicky Hartzler, Chief of Staff at the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Colonel Bjarne M. Iverson, Representative Steve Lynch, and POW/ MIA 1st Sgt.Walter Dixon.
    Hartzler said she considers it her highest privilege to recognize and thank the families of the fallen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom on behalf of the district.
    Hartzler shared the stories of three young Missourians who have recently lost their lives while serving our country. 22-year-old Christopher Stark of Nevada, Mo. lost his life in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. 21-year-old Spc. James Finley died after from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, just one week before he was supposed to return home. And 21-year-old Spc. Charles McClure lost his life in a vehicle accident while serving in Kuwait.
    "These deaths are a reminder of how freedom is not free," she said. "We are able to speak, live, worship and follow our dreams like we want because others have stood up time and again to block tyranny, fight terrorism, and defend our freedom. Their service matters. Let us pledge to never forget and carry on their patriotic cause. They have given their all for us, now it is our time to stand up and defend."
    Colonel Bjarne M.Iverson recognized three Missouri heroes who lost their lives defending freedom since last Memorial Day including Spc.Charles McClure, who died in May, Navy Senior Chief Sean Sullivan of St. Louis, who died in July, 2012, and Spc. Sterling Wyatt of Columbia, who died in July, 2012.
    "These three Americans volunteered during a time a war," Iverson said. "They knew they were most likely going into harm's way. It is a tribute to the American way of life that these men answered the nation's call and served nobly in support."
    1st Sgt. Walter Dixon served as the final guest speaker of the event, sharing his experiences as a POW in Korea. In May of 1951, Dixon was serving in Korea when the U.S. Army reported him as killed in action. It wasn't until December, 1951 when the United States found out he was serving as a prisoner of war. He was a POW for 27 months and continued to serve after his release. His military awards include two bronze stars and seven purple hearts.
    Dixon said that he found poetry as a way to share his experiences.
    Page 2 of 2 - "As time passes and wars are no more, people don't respect it as we did before," Dixon said."We need a revival of patriotic pride and to hold on to those fond memories of those who died."

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