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Veterans, residents pay tribute to fallen soldiers

Family members gather in honor of their fallen loved ones during a Memorial Day service in front of the Escambia County Courthouse.

The rain stopped falling just in time for “Taps” Monday morning as residents, veterans and family members of the fallen gathered to honor Escambia County natives who have given their lives to serve their country.

It was the first year rain fell during most of the service, veterans services officer Mike Hanks said. Those gathered huddled under the portico of the Escambia County Courthouse.

“As uncomfortable as we are today, our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would love to have this cool rain,” American Legion member Charles Jackson said, before reading the roll call of fallen service members.

Family members present were invited to stand behind the monument representing the war in which their loved ones served. The rain stopped just in time for them to do so.

A quartet started the service with several patriotic songs, including the national anthem. The Rev. George Warren offered the invocation.

“As we stand here on this ground, we are so grateful for the men and women who gave all, who gave themselves so we can have freedom,” Warren said. “We know this nation has been blessed for so many years.”

Hanks read from a piece by actor Chuck Norris. “I am the voice this morning of America’s fallen patriots,” he said. “I’ve always been there when freedom and democracy are in danger. … I’m not with you in body, but never doubt that I’m here with you in spirit.”

Weaver reminded those gathered that “some gave some, and some gave all.”

“Lord, we put them in your hands so that you can protect them as they protect us,” Weaver said.