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In Toronto, a tribute paid to veterans of all eras



A MILITARY SALUTE — The American Legion Post 86 Firing Squad delivered a rifle salute to the many veterans who lost their lives while serving their country at the Memorial Day Service held at Toronto’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument. — Warren Scott

TORONTO — While addressing the many who attended a Memorial Day service at Toronto’s Veterans Victory Pavilion, American Legion Post 86 Chaplain C. David Rhodes said since the American Revolution, an estimated 4.1 million men and women have stepped forward to serve their nation.

Rhodes said that number includes 155,000 buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where an average of 26 to 31 burials occur each day; and 122 national cemeteries operated under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He said it’s only fitting then to remember, on Memorial Day, the many who made the ultimate sacrifice through their service.

Serving as guest speaker was Tom Anderson, a sergeant with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the city’s recreation director.

Anderson noted his service in the Air Force took him to several states but following his discharge after 20 years, he returned home to the Gem City.

PAYING TRIBUTE — Tom Anderson, an Air Force veteran and sergeant with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, reflected on the many servicemen and women who have put their lives at risk to preserve America’s freedoms at a Memorial Day service held at the Veterans Victory Pavilion by Toronto American Legion Post 86. To his right are Post 86 Chaplain C. David Rhodes, Mayor John Parker and Rich Coburn, who were among many who participated in the service. — Warren Scott

He said when asked why, he points to the hundreds of banners paying tribute to local veterans that fly above city streets and to more than 1,000 memorial bricks in the pavilion, which surrounds the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, said to be the first American monument to those who served in World War I.

“Toronto gets it,” he said, acknowledging the city’s appreciation for all who have served in the military through the years at wartime and in peace.

“This isn’t simply a day off but a day to remember,” said Anderson, who noted all veterans have put their lives on the line for their country.

He related how the utter truth of that was brought home to him when, while serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., he witnessed the arrival of a soldier who had been killed while serving as a Special Forces ranger in Afghanistan.

He watched as the man’s wife and two young children approached the casket, draped with a U.S. flag, and one of the children asked, “Is Daddy in there?”

Anderson read the names of about a dozen local veterans who died in the line of duty. Flowers were presented to Agie Rock, who represented Gold Star Mothers, those who lost grown children serving in the military.

Rock’s son, Nathan, was 26 when he died while serving as a Marine in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005.

The names of 35 residents who had served in the military at some time in their lives and had died since Memorial Day of last year also were shared through the cooperation of J.E. Foster Funeral Home and Clarke Funeral Home.

Also participating in the service were: Goldie Litva, Post 86 auxiliary chaplain; the Toronto High School Band and Rich Coburn, who provided music; local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, who led the Pledge of Allegiance; the Post 86 Firing Squad, which delivered a rifle salute; and Post 86 Commander Ray Bell, Post 86 Sons of the American Legion Commander Tom Lawrey and Auxiliary Commander Mary Dacko, who placed wreaths at the monument.

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