Surrounded by hundreds of veterans, Gov. Janet Napolitano on Monday praised the sacrifice of all Arizonans who have served in the U.S. military as members of a group "who often saved the world from evil."
Napolitano was the keynote speaker at a Memorial Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in north Phoenix. During her address, Napolitano told the stories of Arizona service members who died while serving in Iraq the past year.
Among them, Napolitano pointed out Army Sgt. Tina Time, who the governor said was the first female American Samoan to die in combat. Time was a 22-year-old Tucson native.
Despite her family’s concern of her safety, Napolitano said Time was committed to serving her country.
Due to that kind of resolve, a majority of the world’s countries have democratically elected leaders, Napolitano said. "This is the legacy of the American soldier."
After she finished, the names of Arizona service members killed in action in the past year were read and a bell rung in their honor. Then, a 21-gun salute echoed above the crowd and about 10 doves were released.
Many of those attending the ceremony wore military uniforms or various combinations of red, white and blue. But Phoenix resident Ruth Ann Clark was covered in black, from her flowing gown to her long black veil.
"I’m mourning," Clark said. Not for her husband, who marched in the color guard, but as a representative of women who lost their husbands during the Civil War.
At that time, many war widows would abstain from wearing any other color for at least two years, Clark said. Even after that, they would introduce lighter tones carefully.
"It wasn’t uncommon for a (widowed) woman to wear black for the rest of her life," Clark said.
Across the Valley in Mesa, Arden Rowley held his seventh annual Memorial Day flagraising ceremony at his home. The gathering was slightly larger than last year’s and Rowley estimated 600 people attended, filling the bleachers erected in front of his yard.
Rowley, a Korean War veteran and former POW, began holding his ceremony in 1998. The Mesa City Band played patriotic songs throughout the event.
Though it began at 6:30 a.m., the sun was already up and making people sweat. Fans displaying the American flag were distributed.
Rowley offered to accommodate those who required shade. However, he said, standing in the early morning sun is a small sacrifice compared with the ones made by those the crowd were there to honor.
"The servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan are enduring far worse than that,"