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Wreaths in the Rain Honor Fallen Soldiers at Memorial Day Service

May 28, 2007 — Drizzling skies set a somber tone for Monday's Memorial Day observance on St. John.
"It's time to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice," Maria Lett said.
Lett is the president of the Viggo E. Sewer American Legion Post 131 Auxiliary. The post is named in honor of her brother, who died Feb. 5, 1953, while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea. He was the first Virgin Islands resident to die in that war.
Members of the American Legion, AARP, St. John Rescue and a few others participated in the event.
It began with a wreath ceremony off the V.I. National Park bulkhead. The cadre of about two dozen participants then marched through Cruz Bay to the public cemetery on Beach Road for another ceremony and the placing of another wreath.
"Do not stand at my grave and cry," said Korean War veteran Andrew Yellen, his voice catching as he read the words to "Memorial Day."
Doug Benton, a Vietnam veteran, that he joined the American Legion in order to "stand up and be counted.”
"If we don't do it, who will?" he asked.
The Rev. Ray Joseph, a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, said it was important to observe Memorial Day so young people won't forget.
Jerry Runyon, a Vietnam veteran who serves as the American Legion's post commander, said it was important to remember the service men who died as a result of all conflicts.
The organization is looking to include all veterans in its observances. Runyan said he knows that the Cruz Bay cemetery holds the graves of many who served in wars, but the American Legion needs to work at identifying them.
The organization has no members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, but Adjutant Paul Devine said the American Legion is trying to keep track of who's serving so they can invite them to be members.
While the parade received a smattering of applause as it went down the street, Lett said she was disappointed more people failed to turn out to remember those who served.
Beverly Biziewski, an AARP member, said she came out because her late husband, Victor, served in the U.S. Air Force.
"I came to strew my flowers in the water in his memory," Biziewski said, carrying a bouquet of bougainvillea.
Elissa Runyon, whose husband is the post commander, said she was on hand because the members "fought for us."
"And to encourage the post," she said.
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