CREVE COEUR — On a chilly but sunny day, music from the 1940s played over a loudspeaker and two World War II-era jeeps were parked near Creve Coeur's veterans memorial as the annual tradition of honoring veterans past and present continued.
Veterans, residents and several dozen children watched as a trio of U.S. Marine reservists raised the American flag to half staff above the village’s veterans memorial as part of its annual recognition of Pearl Harbor Day.
A handful of eighth-graders from Parkview Middle School said the message they took from the program was appreciation for the troops and pride in country.
Mayor Fred Lang said the day was about the sailors, soldiers and Marines who perished in the sneak attack against the United States' naval base in Hawaii but also about the village's residents who have given their lives in later wars.
* Lance Cpl. Robert “R.J.” Newton, 21, died Aug. 23, 2010, from enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted combat operations against enemy forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
* Spc. Kristofer Walker, 20, died in Taji, Iraq, on Oct. 2, 2006, of injuries sustained when an IED detonated near his vehicle.
* Spc. George R. Obourn Jr., 20, died in Taji, Iraq, on Oct. 4, 2006, after being attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire and other weapons.
"This memorial stands as a reminder that freedom comes at a price," said Brig. Gen. William "Robbie" Robertson, the former commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing and now among the command staff of the Illinois Air National Guard.
Robertson recalled a quote from President Ronald Reagan about the need for such ceremonies.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same," he said.
Lance Cpl. Timothy Cook, 19, of Washington recently returned from recruit training to become a reservist with the U.S. Marine Corps' Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion. He's proud to return to his hometown and to participate in such a ceremony. Cpl. Jared Young, 25, who is also with 6th Engineer Support Battalion, said it is important for the younger generation to be there to honor the older one.
And Robertson seemingly spoke of them when he addressed the crowd near the close of his speech.
"This new generation of veterans, they have served in almost every corner of the globe. They go voluntarily into harm's way. They know what is at stake," he said.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org. follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.