Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Ceremonies Remember, Honor Veterans on Memorial Day ; Veterans: Brownback, Roberts Speak

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Ceremonies Remember, Honor Veterans on Memorial Day ; Veterans: Brownback, Roberts Speak

Article excerpt

Multiple Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday drew Topekans together to honor and remember veterans for their service.

At a morning ceremony at Topeka Cemetery, 1601 S.E. 10th, dozens of people -- both former military and lifelong civilians -- met to honor Vietnam veterans who have died.

The ceremony, which was at the Vietnam Veterans Bell Tower at the south end of the cemetery, was hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America chapter 604.

The Rev. Rey Rodriguez, a retired U.S. Army chaplain, invoked a prayer asking those present to never forget "those who made the supreme sacrifice so as to secure for our nation the blessings of life, liberty and justice for all."

"May our service be a timely reminder that our freedom is purchased at high cost and should not be taken for granted," Rodriguez said.

Many of those present laid red roses at the foot of the bell tower in honor of VVA chapter members who have died. A bell rang as each name was read and a flower was placed in one of the vases.

Denise Cunningham, assistant chief of volunteer services at Topeka's VA Medical Center, spoke briefly during the ceremony, thanking veterans for their service. Her own father, she said, left for Vietnam shortly after she was born.

"This is one of the saddest and the most solemn of our holidays," she said. "It is a unique time for us to celebrate and remember."

Chapter president Blas Ortiz told listeners he remembers the friends he lost in Vietnam and keeps them continually in his prayers.

"Every ceremony where we do the 21-gun salute, I always remember the buddies that I lost," Ortiz said. "Their names are on that wall (the Vietnam Veterans Memorial)."

Later in the morning, Topeka police Chief Ron Miller and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts addressed attendees of a memorial ceremony at Penwell-Gabel Cemetery, S.W. 6th and Gage.

Miller spoke briefly of Topeka police officer Jeff Atherly and Cpl. …

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