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Memorial Day: Honoring men, women who gave ultimate sacrifice

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Red, white and blue colors lined the streets of downtown Polson as Veterans walked in remembrance of fallen heroes. 

Former State Senator Janna Taylor spoke to the crowd before families gathered around First Citizens Bank to watch the three-volley salute. 

“The older I get the more I remember the stories my father told me,” Taylor said. “He told me that the real heroes are the ones that didn’t return home.”

After guns went off, Veterans made their way to the Polson Cemetery for another honoring. 

“We send our youngest and finest to war,” Chief Warrant Officer Pruett Helm said. “Many of them never come home. Many of them don’t get the freedoms that we have today.”

Memorial Day is a time to sit and reflect on how truly lucky Americans are to have freedom, according to Helm. Helm, who served as a helicopter pilot during Vietnam, directed his speech toward tomorrow’s future.

“Kids, the future is not an Xbox or a video game, the future is getting yourself an education,” Helm said. “That is the best way you can honor these men and women. Freedom is not free.”

A parade and gravesite service in Ronan followed, with the annual honoring of Medal of Honor recipient LaVerne Parrish. Two American flags were presented to the brother and niece of SSGT. Thomas A. Needham, a Ronan pilot who went missing 72 years ago during WWII.

Services were also held in Arlee and St. Ignatius.

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