Forest Grove's monumental flag serves as a focal point for families remembering the fallen service men and women of Oregon

Sprouting from a small strip of land like a towering Calla Lily, the Stars and Bars of Forest Grove spread a full 60 feet into the sky Monday.

Beneath it, a gathering of 70 or so firefighters, veterans, boy scouts and anything else, took sight of Michael Kinkade, chief of Forest Grove Fire and Rescue, and the emcee of the city's annual Memorial Day gathering.

Nearly 10 years after the attacks of 9/11 twisted the United States into knots and less than a month after the death of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the terrorist act who was killed by U.S. Forces, this year's event could have been drawn neatly into a political package.

But that's not what Memorial Day is about.

'This day is not about the politics or division that have accompanied all wars. This day is about reconciliation and honor,' Kinkade said.

With that, he told the story of a 60-year-old doctor, Bill Krissoff, who worked his way into the field hospitals of Iraq and Afghanistan with some help from George W. Bush and read the names of those Oregonians who'd died in foreign wars.

Krissoff's experience helping the wounded on the battlefield led him to wonder, 'where do we get these people,' said Kinkade.

Krissoff was referring to soldiers who would suffer wounds only to head back into the fight, remarkable young people ready to give their life for their country.

'We have lost some of these people since the last time we stood before this beautiful flag,' Kinkade said.

The Fallen

Oregon National Guard Specialist Andrew Evan Lara, 25, of Albany

Marine Sergeant Matthew J. Deyoung, 26, of Talent

Marine Sergeant Ian M. Tawney, 25, of Dallas, Ore.

Marine Lance Corporal Joseph E. Rodewald, 21, of Albany

Army Private First Class Anthony T. Justesen, 22, of Wilsonville

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Dale Allen Goetz, 43, raised in Hood River.

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