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Memorial Day 2019: Some Gave All

Veterans, family members and the community gathered across the Tri-State this holiday weekend to remember those who served their country but didn't return to their loved ones. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eden Park, the annual Memorial Day ceremony concluded with people placing American and Prisoner of War flags at the base of the memorial.The ceremony hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 10 marked the 35th anniversary of the memorial's dedication. Just days earlier, the Cincinnati Park Board dedicated a new contemplation garden next to the memorial, honoring and providing a space for veterans dealing with PTSD and other "invisible wounds of war."

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
Current and former military members salute as The Star Spangled Banner is played and the American flag is raised then lowered to half staff.

Monday's ceremony included patriotic music by the University of Cincinnati Bearcat Bands, the raising of the American and POW flags, a rifle salute, the playing of taps, the placement of honor wreaths, and a guest speaker.

Xavier University professor emeritus Jack Richardson spoke of his time in the Marine Corps from enlistment in 1965 through taking on the role of Casualty Notification Officer in 1968.

Richardson was tasked with notifying primary next of kin for Marines across the Tri-State. His service region extended from halfway to Indianapolis to as far south as halfway to Lexington and Louisville and as far east as halfway to Charleston, West Virginia.

He held up an American flag, slightly discolored and faded after several decades. He said a family member called him one day shortly after her son's funeral and asked that he return to her home.

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
Jack Richardson holds up the flag given to him by the mother of Marine after he notified her of her son's death during Vietnam. She asked him to take it after the funeral because she couldn't bear to have it in her home.

"I came to the house over in Northern Kentucky ... and I spoke to the mother of the deceased," he told the gathering. "She said to me, could I not only come to he house but pick up the flag. 'I can't get along with that flag in my house.' And so, this is the flag that I have kept and displayed for the past 40 years. The exact flag from his casket from his funeral to his mother and on to me.

"What I think is the most important thing to say at this point is thank you for coming today ... and thank you to [all of the veterans] for your contributions to the United States of America."

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
A gentleman gets a little help as he places a small American flag at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eden Park.

To see more images of the 2019 Memorial Day ceremony, click on the image at the top of the page.