BANDON — Memorial Day is special in the hearts of veterans.
"Many of us have lost comrades in the world's never-ending wars on this glorious Earth we call home," said Bandon VFW Post Commander Royce Kelley.
While other usual Memorial Day weekend activities were curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VFW, along with the Bandon American Legion, held a special tribute on Memorial Day at the new Bandon Veterans Memorial in City Park. Members of the memorial committee were present, along with the VFW Honor Guard, to give a gun salute. Honor Guard members present included buglar Wes Feeler, caller Lew Slosser, rifle team Jens Anderson, Juana Bell, Tom Goss, Jim Koch, Chris Perkins, Gary Scorby and Preston Wayte; and flag team Mark Dahl, Lt. Craig Tyska, Arlene Wilson and Capt. Gary Sands.
Veteran Nan Sands acted as master of ceremonies for the event.
The VFW asked the public not to attend the ceremony and to watch a broadcast on social media done by The Fam Productions, who made a video of the event. However, a few did attend and maintained social distance with masks or watched from their vehicles while the flag was raised from half-staff at noon, following tradition.
"Today we honored all veterans who have gone before us," Kelley said. "Even though we could not invite the public to witness this solemn occasion because of COVID-19, the Bandon Veterans Honor Guard offered full military honors, including the folds of honor, for our fallen comrades."
The program was highlighted by a special guest Nancy Brown. Brown's brother Ben Brown joined the service at age 17 in 1951 and was killed in action. His remains were not found until a few years ago, and Brown was then given a proper funeral service with full military honors.
Bandon resident and Vietnam veteran Bill Smith was presented with the VFW Award of Commendation citation by Kelley for his outstanding dedication and hard work "beyond the call" for the leading the way and continuing to oversee construction of the Bandon Veterans Memorial.
"This gift to our community would not have been a reality without Bill," Sands said, as she and Kelley presented the award.
Following the ceremony, the VFW Frank C. High Medal of Honor Post 3440 offered a drive-through picnic at the VFW Hall on Bates Road, giving away free hot-dog or hamburger lunches to the community. The meal included potato salad and a cookie. The cookies were doated donated by Pastries and Pizza of Bandon and the hot-dog and hamburger buns were donated by Franz Bakery of Coos Bay.
"We also want to think The Fam Productions, KCBY-TV and Amy Moss Strong from the Bandon Western World newspaper for their attendance and recording this Memorial Day presentation," Sands said.
"Memorial Day — All gave some, some gave all," Sands said. "If you enjoy your freedom, please thank a veteran."