Memorial Day 2011

Hundreds gather near at Kentucky's Camp Nelson to honor war veterans

Hundreds gather at Camp Nelson

rclemons@herald-leader.comMay 31, 2011 

Jean Miller celebrated Memorial Day at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in honor of her husband and brother-in-law, who are both buried there.

She and friend Dottie VanWinkle, both of Lexington, braved the early afternoon heat to be part of the annual memorial service that included stories from veterans and music by the West Jessamine High School Band.

Music from the band opened the ceremony, followed by a cannon salute from the Camp Nelson Honor Guard.

Patrick H. Lovett, director of the Kentucky National Cemetery Complex, said in his opening remarks that if it were not for veterans, "this flag would not fly the way she flies today."

Hundreds gathered in the cemetery with lawn chairs, umbrellas and water bottles for the service, even with temperatures that reached 80 degrees before 11 a.m. Young and old filled the lawn, including veterans and families of veterans, some in uniforms.

American flags lined the rows of headstones, courtesy of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from the Lexington area that spent Saturday placing flags on each grave.

Other speakers included master of ceremonies Howard Howells, chairman of the Central Kentucky Veterans Committee; retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Yerks; and retired Lt. Col. Jim Fennell. They spoke of experiences in the military and the importance of honoring veterans on Memorial Day year after year.

"You took the time to come out and honor," Yerks said. "You took the time to serve a purpose, to honor ... those giving their life for their country."

During the ceremony, a monument was dedicated to the Korean War Veterans Association. Fennell, a veteran of that war, spoke about his time in the service.

Lovett said it was a war that might seem to be forgotten at times, but he stressed that "we do not forget."

Nancy Moore of Lexington went to Camp Nelson to mark the holiday with her family and to volunteer. The Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists that goes to patriotic events and military funerals to offer support, helped with parking and seating. Moore said the group was all volunteer, and "you don't have to be a vet" to get involved.

Also at Camp Nelson on Monday were a POW-MIA recognition and Civil War marker dedication by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

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