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"They laid down their lives on the field of battle"
World War II veteran Ed Foerster, left, and Vietnam veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient Larry Brown, both of Surprise, pause at the World War II Memorial outside the Northwest Regional Library on Bullard Avenue following Memorial Day ceremonies May 26. (Independent News Media, Inc., USA photo by Jeff Grant)

Surprise ceremony honors nation's war dead in advance of Memorial Day

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If you pause Memorial Day to remember an American veteran who died while serving with the nation’s military, somewhere men such as Larry Brown and Ed Foerster will be smiling.

“Every time I talk about it, an apple comes up in my system,” said Mr. Brown, a three-time Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam War veteran from Surprise, referring to the men he saw die around him on the battlefields in Southeast Asia.

The retired Marine delivered remarks to a gathering of about 40, including a number of veterans, during a ceremony May 26 marking Memorial Day, the national holiday set aside for honoring America’s war dead. The observance was co-sponsored by the Surprise West Valley Veterans and the city of Surprise.

“They laid down their lives on the field of battle for the freedoms and liberties we hold dear in our heart,” declared Mr. Brown, standing behind a podium alongside the city’s World War II Memorial on the grounds of the Northwest Regional Library, 16089 N. Bullard Ave.

Prior to Mr. Brown’s remarks, a wreath was placed by members of American Legion Post 96 in Surprise and Marine Corps League Detachment 1246 at the stone monument bearing a bronze plaque. “Taps” was played by Bill Fedor, a retired Air Force captain and musician Dan Reed of Sun City West.

Mr. Fedor believed the ceremony captured the spirit of Memorial Day, a holiday that he and other veterans representatives in Surprise have described as a solemn occasion as opposed to a time for parades and celebrating.

“I’m always thinking about the men who served our country and what they did for us,” said the Surprise resident, referring to the thousands of men and women who have worn the U.S. military uniform and died while serving.

Mr. Foerster, a retired Marine who served in the Pacific theater during World War II, said the simple solemn ceremony not only was an appropriate tribute but he hoped it and other similar events would educate the public, especially the younger generations, about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“It is a constant fight to get people to understand what this is about,” he said.

“It’s not about us (the living veterans), it’s about honoring the guys who died for our country.”

A second event, with more speakers and some video presentations, was to be conducted Monday, the actual day of the holiday, at Radiant Church, Reems and Bell roads, Surprise.

News editor Jeff Grant can be reached at jgrant@newszap.com or 623-445-2805.

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