05/29/07 — Remembering all heroes

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Remembering all heroes

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 29, 2007 1:45 PM

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michelle Barefield didn't spend much time Monday talking about the bombs she defused while stationed in Iraq.

And she hardly mentioned the fact that she received the Bronze Star for her actions.

Instead, she used the opportunity as keynote speaker at the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition's Annual Memorial Day Ceremony to talk about the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation and freedom.

"This is a day intended for those who died for their country. We should protect those graves and cherish those people," she said.

The sentiment was shared by the more than 100 people attending the memorial service

"May we never, ever forget those who, with their own blood, bought our freedom," pastor Pete Williams said in his invocation.

In the 139 years since the Memorial Day holiday was first observed, thousands of American men and women have shed their blood and given their lives for their country, Tech Sgt. Barefield said. The country can never afford to forget their sacrifices, she said, noting that the military's role in protecting the country has never been more important.

She described the servicemen and women now overseas as deserving the same honor and praise as any veterans who have fought in any of the nation's conflicts over the years. Heroes are being made every day in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world, she added.

She described how, when she first was stationed in Iraq as a member of a bomb-defusing team, how she witnessed the bravery of those with whom she worked. Some did not come home, she said, describing how a fellow sergeant near the end of his tour of duty and preparing to return home to his family was killed by a bomb.

Also during the ceremony, the coalition took the opportunity to honor one of its own -- the late Al Linton Sr., who died last August.

Linton served as an undercover operative in the OSS during World War II. Later, he served as state commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Linton's son-in-law, Frank Drohan, accepted a plaque honoring him on behalf of the Linton family.

"As a former Marine, I knew a leader when I saw one and that was Al," Drohan said.

He described his father-in-law as a man who was loyal to his country, family and friends and who gave and earned respect for his service to his country and his strong convictions.

Had Linton been present on Monday, Drohan said, he would have reminded the audience that "All gave some, but some gave all."

"He would have said to serve one another and give to humanity while you're here because life is a short journey," Drohan said.

The ceremony included the placing of a wreath to honor the nation's war dead. It was placed by Linton's daughter, Linda Drohan, and Dorothy Raymer, the daughter of the late Brody West. West was Wayne County's most decorated soldier in World War I.

At the close of the ceremony, Tech Sgt. Barefield reminded the audience that America's veterans, both old and young, deserve to be honored for the freedom they make affordable for every American.

"I urge you to talk to veterans, not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but every day, and hear the incredible stories they have to tell," she said.