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May 29 – A gentle breeze waved small American flags at the graves of 1,757 veterans in Owensboro Memorial Gardens Saturday afternoon.

That’s 52 more than a year ago – one veteran per week in just one US cemetery, Glenn Taylor, president of Glenn Family Services, told the crowd.

Memorial Gardens was honoring the nation’s “honored dead” for the 24th year.

It would have been 25 years, Taylor said, had it not been for COVID, which canceled the 2020 observance.

It was an afternoon of patriotic music and speeches that honored those “who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The county’s biggest Memorial Day celebration began with the Patriot Guard Riders cycling through the crowd.

“They serve a great need,” Taylor said, “escorting our fallen heroes to their hometown.”

Owensboro Community Band performed “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

The Reverend Jonathan Bonar, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, prayed that those who “died in the service of our county” and their families would be remembered for their sacrifice.

The Daviess County High School Alumni Ensemble, led by Shelia Miller, performed “America.”

Brian Basham, a US Army veteran in Iraq, said not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of those of his fellow soldiers who didn’t return home.

He said, “Live your life for these servicemen who never got to live theirs.”

People should enjoy Memorial Day with barbecues and parties because those who died in war would like it, Basham said.

“But they deserve the biggest party,” he said.

Basham thanked the family members of those who served, saying, “If they hadn’t served, we don’t know where we would be.”

Cathy Mullins, whose son, Brandon Scott Mullins, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, sang “From A Distance” and “God Bless The USA.”

Wreaths were placed on monuments for each of the military branches and for Golden Star families – those who lost a family member in war.

The VFW Post 696 honor guard fired a salute to the dead.

Mary Lou Goodsell performed “Taps”.

Richard Russelburg released a flock of white doves – a symbol of peace – to fly over the cemetery.

The entire Daviess County High School alumni sang “God Bless America.”

The Community Band played a mix of tunes from every branch of the US military.

And bagpiper Karen Brumley slowly paraded through the crowd playing “Amazing Grace.”

In the background, a giant American flag fluttered from the top of an aerial ladder over a fire truck.

And once again, the 1,757 veterans lying in this cemetery, along with thousands more in other cemeteries, have been commemorated.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, [email protected]