PORTLAND -- Thousands of metro area residents and veterans spent Monday remembering the lives of soldiers who died in service to the United States.

At Willamette National Cemetery, Frank Day and his friend Loren Charlton, two veterans of the Vietnam War, saluted the father of a soldier whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Danny Vy and his wife came to the cemetery where their son is buried.

Vy said he never misses the chance to let veterans know they are appreciated.

I just want to thank all the gentlemen I can, anybody military, Vy said.

Photo: Portland metro area observes Memorial Day

In Vancouver, a Memorial Day ceremony paid a special tribute to a local hero: Chris Stover, an Air Force pilot killed in January when his helicopter crashed on a training mission in England.

Stover's parents released 51 doves to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the nation - one for each state and one for their son.

In Tualatin, Memorial Day events included a special salute to three World War II veterans.

Back at Willamette National Cemetery, Stephanie Ramos brought her family to remember her grandfather, Donald Maxwell, a World War II veteran who passed away in 1995.

She said Maxwell cared for wounded soldiers at a military hospital, but like so many veterans, he didn't say much about his experiences at war.

He definitely loved his country more than anything, Ramos said. Those experiences and those people he helped, he kept those and pondered them in his heart.

The names of Private First Class Cody Patterson and Army Specialist John Pelham were added to a memorial listing of Oregon servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At an event in Salem, dozens of veterans, their friends and family were on hand to reflect and pay tribute to fallen service members.

Memorial Day is important to me because the younger generation needs to remember this generation of veterans and carry that pride on into the next generation, said veteran Terry Lowells.

U.S. combat and non-combat war causalities since 1861

  • Civil War: 498,332 (Union and Confederate combined)
  • Spanish American War: 2,446
  • World War I: 116,516
  • World War II: 405,399
  • Korean War: 36,574
  • Vietnam conflict: 58,220
  • Gulf War: 383
  • Global War on Terror: 6,809
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