Gathered under tents to find relief from the heat, hundreds of soldiers and civilians, young and old, came together today under an American flag flown at half-staff to remember this nation's fallen heroes from Maryland.
On a day when patriotic hymns and the music of bagpipes echoed around the gentle hills of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, small flags placed at each soldier's grave stirred in the breeze, lending a visual reminder of soldiers whose lives and deaths were driven by a purpose greater than themselves.
Joseph "Joe" Nawrozki, a combat journalist in Vietnam from 1966-67, spoke briefly to the crowd. He said his time covering the war taught him that our soldiers are men and women who serve bravely despite "fear so complete, you rattle when you walk."
Norman Anderson found what he called a palpable spirit of greatness and honor fitting to the day and place in the ceremony. He is the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III, who was killed by a suicide bomb in Iraq last Oct. 19.
"There is a sense when you step foot on the grounds that you know what's around you and what the people [buried here] have been through," he said.
Joseph McLeary, a Lutherville resident who fought in Vietnam from 1959-1962, said his thoughts about remembering fallen heroes are simple: "If your country's not worth fighting for, it's not worth living in."
And when families, former and current soldiers, and state and local leaders take time to remember these heroes, McLeary said, "We're doing something for them."
Anderson said such overwhelming support, especially from residents in the Parkton community where he and his wife, Robyn live, couldn't "get any better."
That's what made the day so special, he said: People united to support one another around a common cause -- honoring the nation's soldiers.