BRANT LAKE - Joanne Ellsworth, commander of the Chestertown American Legion Post, looked out at the crowd surrounding the veterans memorial on the lawn of the Horicon Community Center.
Nearly 200 citizens turned out for Memorial Day ceremonies for Chestertown, Horicon and Pottersville, held to honor those in northern Warren County who dedicated their lives to serving the nation and protecting its freedom.
"May the souls of our comrades in their resting places around the world be held in our hearts always," Ellsworth said, particularly recalling the ultimate sacrifice made by Jeremiah Monroe of Brant Lake, a U.S. Army soldier who was killed in an
Afghanistan combat zone nearly two years ago.
"Let us not forget what the ultimate cost of freedom has been to keep this great nation great," Ellsworth continued, noting that citizens should extend the tribute to fire and law enforcement heroes as well as U.S. soldiers.
As the late-morning sun glittered on the Mill Pond nearby, Legionnaire Louis Little lowered the American flag behind the memorial to half-staff, with the assistance of several Boy Scouts of Troop 30.
Ellsworth then named a list of soldiers now on duty in Afghanistan, which includes Robert Hill, Paul Freebern, Robert Miller, Michelle Digert and Roy Mihill. The assembled crowd observed a moment of silence in prayer for their safety and service.
"May we keep those in harm's way in our thoughts," Ellsworth added.
As John McConnell of the American Legion 964 placed a POW-MIA banner on a ceremonial empty chair in front of the podium, Ellsworth said citizens should pay tribute to those who were captive or who were never located after combat.
"Let us not forget the prisoners of war or those missing in action, as well as our wounded warriors, who pay day after day for our freedom which physical or psychological battle scars."