Veterans honored in 11 Memorial Day services in Missoula


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula community members made history on Monday, holding a total of 11 services, culminating in 73 people gathering at the Afghanistan and Iraq memorial.

"It is not a day to celebrate or glorify war. Rather, it is a day to reflect on the lives lost and hold close to our loved ones," said U.S. Army Sergeant Sam Redfern.

This was the last service of the day but the very first time to formally honor those in the Afghanistan and Iraq war.

"The grateful nation of Montana fallen soldier memorial here at the University of Montana, it is now the official state of Montana memorial for Iraq and Afghanistan and it's really our effort to honor that sacrifice," said Grateful Nation Montana President David Bell.

"Very important that we all remember our veterans and especially our fallen ones," said Nancy J. Engebretson.

Susan Campbell Reneau organized the services for the day and says that this service was added last minute on Friday and she couldn't say no to it.

"The young men and women that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are true heroes for today and we really appreciate them," said Reneau.

Reneau says the memorial markers at the University of Montana represent the young people in the state of Montana who have died to allow us freedom from terrorism.

People in the crowd were given wreaths or flowers to honor those fallen soldiers and had the opportunity to place them on a memorial marker. A moment of singing, allowed that opportunity to happen and those from the crowd, both adults and children went up.

Live music added a touch of honor to the service. "I like to honor our fallen soldiers. It's very important to bring live music to these occasions, to bring some dignity," said Buglers Across America Elliott Oppenheim.

"It's events like this that give us a few minutes to remember those who paid the ultimate price to give us the freedoms that we're enjoying on a beautiful Montana day like today," said Bell.

Organizers intend to hold all 11 services again next year.