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Memorial Day honors veterans from all wars

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Observance at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery focuses on duty, honor and service

FERNLEY — This year’s remembrance ceremony at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley reaffirmed a growing message that no veteran will ever be forgotten.

Memorial Day at the state’s second-largest veterans cemetery honored service men and women from the last three wars and those who died before them, specifically during the first two world wars, Korea and other skirmishes around the globe.

Rich Crombie of the Nevada Veterans Coalition serves as master of ceremonies during the Memorial Day service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. Steve Ranson/NNG
Rich Crombie of the Nevada Veterans Coalition serves as master of ceremonies during the Memorial Day service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. Steve Ranson/NNG

Rich Crombie, Nevada Veterans Coalition public information officer and narrator for the Memorial Day ceremony said it’s important to remember not only the fallen veterans interred at the NNVMC but also at cemeteries stretching from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans, from Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C, to Fernley.

“Tens of thousands of patriots like you who love their country and support their military are gathered in similar fashion to pay tribute to those who have served and have now perished,” Crombie said.

After delivering his opening remarks, Crombie thanked parents for bringing their children to the Memorial Day ceremony so the younger generations would learn about the meaning of the day and the importance of duty, honor and service to their country. Crombie emphasized Memorial Day is not about barbecues, mattress or furniture sales or buying a car. It’s to remember veterans who died in service to their country.

Before the speakers delivered their remarks and after a wreath was placed at a memorial, veterans from Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno, watched as Marine Corps veteran Felipe Gutierrez and director of the TMCC Veterans Services delivered the dog tags from Operation Battle Born: Ruck to Remember 2024 to Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony. Beginning this year’s four-day journey from a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Eastside Memorial Park in Minden to the NNVMC, veterans and volunteers took turns carrying two rucksacks that shared nearly 7,000 service members’ dog tags to include the 57 fallen Nevadans who made the ultimate sacrifice since Sept. 11, 2001. 

On that fateful Tuesday morning more than 22 years ago, 19 terrorists hijacked four passenger jets, crashing two into each tower of the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth jet crashed into a field in Western Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.

About 60 volunteers, many of them Marine Corps veterans who participated in a four-day ruck march, brought more than 7,000 dog tags of fallen veterans to the Memorial Day service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. Steve Ranson/NNG
About 60 volunteers, many of them Marine Corps veterans who participated in a four-day ruck march, brought more than 7,000 dog tags of fallen veterans to the Memorial Day service at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. Steve Ranson/NNG

In addition to the dog tags representing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the marchers also carried the 151 dog tags of Nevadans who died during the Vietnam War. Crombie said the marchers physically and mentally carried these fallen heroes on their backs.

Gutierrez said today’s veterans also wanted to express their gratitude to those who served in Vietnam almost a half-century ago. 

“We want to show our thanks to them,” he said.

Gutierrez said 60 volunteers, many of them Marine Corps veterans, participated in the ruck march that took them north from Minden and then east toward Fort Churchill, a former outpost where soldiers protected settlers and westbound emigrants/ 

Anthony, who has presided over several veteran events during his time in office, said Memorial Day is a day to remember the fallen.

“We pay tribute to the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to this great nation,” he said. “On this Memorial Day, we come together in the community to reflect on the sacrifices of our veterans.

Anthony was also moved with the veterans and their friends, who carried the rucksacks packed with dog tags.

“Nevada has a proud history of military service,” he said.” From the high desert valleys to the Sierra Nevada mountains, our communities encourage the dedication of the fallen in defense of freedom.”

Anthony said Memorial Day is a day to remember with profound gratitude. He said it’s fortunate to have communities that understand the importance of honoring veterans and their sacrifices.

U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., recognized the veterans and ruck marchers for their dedication and for remembering the fallen heroes and their sacrifices. Rosen cited a strong family background of service. Her father served in World War II, her grandfather was a tail gunner in the same war, and her father-in-law fought in the Philippines. Other relatives also served in the military.

Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, and State Sen. Lisa Krasner, R-District 16, attended the one-hour ceremony, but neither representative spoke.

Crombie, a Navy veteran, also recognized the Blue and Gold Star families and briefly reflected on his son’s service in the Army. His 20-year-old son, Pvt. First Class David Nick Crombie died on June 7, 2006, when an improvised explosive device blew up near the Humvee in which he was riding.  

Before he offered closing remarks, the Truckee River Brass Quintet played Amazing Grace, and the NVC Honor Guard fired a volley of three, followed by the honor guard buglers playing Taps.

After the ceremony, most attendees walked the hallowed grounds of the NNVMC, many stopping at specific gravesites. More than 8,000 veterans are interred at the state cemetery, which opened in 1990.

Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson is Editor Emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News.

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