In a cold drizzle, stories of veterans warm hearts |

In a cold drizzle, stories of veterans warm hearts

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Anne Guenard’s oldest son pilots an AC-130 gunship, with four tours in Iraq and another planned, for the Air Force. Another son is an Army captain and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her father served in the Philippines in World War II, her brother flew during the Vietnam War and her father-in-law was a Navy instructor.

They were the reasons Guenard stood in cool, wet weather Sunday as Parkites commemorated Veterans Day at the Olympic Welcome Plaza, saluting the American flag, listening to a speaker recite a message from President Bush and hearing speakers talk about the sanctity of the day.

"The military has been a long tradition in our family, and I see, most of all, what it has done for my boys. They have a sense of pride. They are confident," Guenard said after the 15-minute ceremony.

The approximately 35 people who gathered for the ceremony, including World War II veterans and people who fought in other wars, gazed upon the soft flicker of a candle as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The attendance was the largest in the five years of the event, said Jeffrey Louden, a former pastor at Shepherd of the Mountains who spoke. He recognized everyone who suffered during wars and said people must engage their leaders. He urged people to pray for peace.

The commemoration was short, but the people there were genuine, sharing stories of their families’ military service and gathering afterward at nearby Squatters Roadhouse Grill. At the plaza, the site of numerous peace demonstrations since before the Iraqi war, they sang "America the Beautiful" and listened to the mournful notes of "Taps."

Mike McCarthy, who lives in Summit Park and is retired from the Air Force, said veterans leave the military better citizens than they were before their service. He said, though, people may disagree with the nation’s leaders and still be patriotic.

Sally Rajamaki, who lives in Silver Springs and whose husband and father are veterans, remembered a close family friend who was killed in Iraq in 2005. Parkites do not regularly think of the soldiers in Iraq, she said.

"People in Park City, day to day, we ski, we party," she said, claiming the Iraqi war should be more personalized.

Guenard, the military mother, said she wants fewer troops abroad by Veterans Day 2008. She is not confident, though.

"I’m hoping by next Veterans Day we can bring more troops home," she said.

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