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Vt. National Guard Memorial Day ceremony honors Vermonters

 A red, white and blue flower wreath sits before a memorial for fallen soldiers.
Brittany Patterson
Vermont Public
Wreaths are commonly used during Memorial Day celebrations. Their circular shape symbolizes eternity and immortality.

Dozens of people gathered Thursday at the Fallen Heroes Memorial outside of Camp Johnson in Colchester to honor U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the armed forces.

The ceremony, hosted by the Vermont National Guard, included remarks from Gov. Phil Scott and Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as the placing of a wreath at the Fallen Heroes Memorial and other military traditions including the firing of three volleys and the playing of Taps.

"Today, we remember our fallen and the many who have gone before us from all branches, from all services across all generations," said Adjutant General Gregory Knight. "Every one of them were well aware of the challenges and sacrifices that come with service while wearing the cloth of our nation. Even knowing the potential of making the ultimate sacrifice, they stepped forward to serve."

Addressing the crowd, Gov. Phil Scott spoke directly to the families in attendance who lost someone during their service.

"I want to give my deepest sympathy and respect to all those who lost a loved one," he said. "We live in freedom thanks to them. It's important we don't forget how they lived, as well as how they died. And while we honor them here today, we are grateful for them each and every day."

Sen. Bernie Sanders also thanked the Gold Star families and said America must also take care of the country's veterans.

"We have that moral responsibility to make sure that when one comes home, one is well taken care of one's family is well taken care of," he said. "And I know when Vermont we try hard to do that."

Both lawmakers told the crowd that America faces challenges.

"These are tough times, no question about it," Sanders said. "But I think if we look at those men and women who died for their country, the sacrifices they made, and if we are also willing to commit ourselves — all of us in whatever way — to make this country a better place in which to live, in that way we will have honored the sacrifices made by those who died for this country."

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Brittany Patterson joined Vermont Public in December 2020. Previously, she was an energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. Prior to that, she covered public lands, the Interior Department and forests for E&E News' ClimateWire, based in Washington, D.C. Brittany also teaches audio storytelling and has taught classes at West Virginia University, Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont. She holds degrees in journalism from San Jose State University and U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. A native of California, Brittany has fallen in love with Vermont. She enjoys hiking, skiing, baking and cuddling with her rescues, a 95-pound American Bulldog mix named Cooper, and Mila, the most beautiful calico cat you'll ever meet.
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