Nevada Honors Its Fallen Vets

For some Monday began with a gathering in a Sparks truck stop parking lot.

A number of motorcycle clubs, the members mostly veterans, left on a ride east on I-80 to Fernley.

It's a trip many have taken before, but for some this was a special journey. They joined the large crowd gathered for the annual ceremony at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

There were, as there are each year, important ritual, thoughtful words.

But there were also the quiet moments away from the crowd, the search for familiar names, the private memories of a loved one that seemed to say even more.

And at the end of the traditional ceremonies there was a new addition to this space, the dedication of a memorial to Nevadans lost in the Vietnam War.

Many of the motorcyclists remained for this separate ceremony. One of the clubs represented in that ride out from Sparks had spearheaded efforts to have it erected.

"We never got the welcome home that the other soldiers got coming home from war," says Thomas Lakey, "And if no one else will welcome us home, we're going to welcome each other."

The new memorial contains the names of more than 150 Nevadans who died in Vietnam, but for survivors it also helps heal an old wound and dedicates them to seeing no American serviceman or woman shares their experience.

"We're making a point of saying to each soldier coming home, 'Thank you for your service.' Something we never got. We're making sure it never happens again."

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