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The Lake Region Veterans Color Guard stands at attention. Photo by - Brian Basham

Never forget

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With cold winds blowing and snowflakes in the air, Sunday's Veterans Day program in Oak Grove Cemetery unfortunately was kept very short.

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Speaker George Peters, who served three tours in Vietnam, said he had a 20-minute speech that he condensed into about five minutes, but the message was still clear.

He said when soldiers leave for duty, they get a parade. While deployed, people send them care packages and letters. When they return home, they get another parade.

"We've forgotten them now," he said. "Those folks are going through some things. They need to be hugged. They need to be taken care of."

And they will forevermore need a helping hand.

He said people ask him how long ago he left Vietnam.

"I was in Vietnam last night."

Although it doesn't happen every night, he said he still has nightmares of his time there.

Under the flags flying high in the cemetery, Peters said there were 2.7 million veterans in Vietnam. There are only about one-third living now, and they are dying at the rate of 390 a day. He said that's due to Agent Orange.

"Think of our veterans buried in our cemeteries by the thousands," he said.

The Veterans Park in downtown Detroit Lakes is a living memory of all veterans from Becker County, he added. Friends and family can purchase pavers in memory or in honor of the veterans in their lives. The pavers then line the sidewalk of the park.

At the Veterans Day program, the VFW, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans all took part. The Lake Region Veterans Color Guard also provided the rifle salute and playing of Taps.

Though Veterans Day is a day to honor and remember veterans, those who served should be cared for every day.

"Stand next to them and help them," Peters said.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.

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