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Sadness, joy, remembrance

Lake Oswego's Pioneer Cemetery observes Memorial Day during a time of war
by: Cliff Newell, 
Lake Oswego Pioneer Cemetery was the host for a Memorial Day event on Monday.  Boy Scouts Nick Childress and Robbie Magill raise the American Flag to start the ceremony. At left, Col. Robert J. Mouw delivers a moving Memorial Day tribute to past and current American soldiers.

A quiet country cemetery on a rainy day was the scene for a moving Memorial Day tribute in Lake Oswego Monday.

The 140th Memorial Day was observed at Lake Oswego Pioneer Cemetery on Monday, and the event had a special poignance with the United States' involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite the dreary skies and steady rain, about 75 people of all ages showed up to honor loved ones who had served in past American military endeavors or to show support for family members now on military duty in the Middle East.

'We shall remember them,' was the theme of the prayer by Chaplain Judith Kleinstein, who gave the invocation and played Taps to conclude the formal part of the observance.

Guest speaker for the gathering was Col. Robert J. Mouw, 82nd Brigade Deputy Commander of the Oregon National Guard, which has its headquarters at the Lake Oswego Armory.

'We are here today because we all know someone in the Armed Forces who gave their lives for our freedom,' Mouw said.

Mouw cited the story of his uncle Gene Brown who served as a tail gunner in World War II. He somehow survived brutal treatment at the hands of German soldiers and two years of imprisonment while his family, believing Brown had been killed, grieved back in the United States. Today, the man is still alive, and Mouw attributed this to 'his remarkable faith in God.'

But not every American soldier has such a wonderful story to tell, and Mouw's voice broke with emotion as he recalled his comrades who had been killed in military action during the current two conflicts.

'I close my eyes and I can still see their faces,' Mouw said. 'They are smiling, almost laughing.'

When the formal part of the observance was concluded, a group of veterans gathered together to pose for photos, then the crowd dispersed to place American flags at the graves of veterans. It was one way of showing their gratitude for those who risked all for this nation.