Ceremony, songs, prayer mark Memorial Day

Veterans groups and civilians alike paid tribute to former and present members of the armed services Monday with ceremonies that included flag-raisings, speeches, patriotic songs, prayers and color guard salutes.

They began at 9 a.m.

with a half-hour ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 14 at Centennial Park in Kingman.

"Today is the day we remember our veterans," said Frank Shaw, American Legion post commander.

"All veterans served our country to keep us free."

Shaw said the terrorist attacks of Sept.

11 united Americans.

The events of Sept.

11 and the war that followed in Afghanistan were much on the minds of others invited to speak during the ceremony, which drew more than 100 people on a sun-baked morning.

No one anticipated Sept.

11 when people gathered at Memorial Day festivities last year, Kingman Mayor Les Byram said.

He described the attacks as "a day that brought fear to America."

Byram, who sported a red, white and blue tie, said members of the military are now fighting "a different kind of war, sometimes fighting a shadowy force.

Our service people, I have full confidence, will meet the challenge."

America remains the hope of the world, Byram said.

"We are the policemen of the world, whether we like it our not," he said.

The United States is now engaged in a "very long war," Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said.

"We've got to make sure we have secure borders" and American citizens are safe, he said.

He said young Americans have forsaken careers in civilian life to serve in the military.

Dennis Gilbert, a Kingman police officer who served 20 years in the Marine Corps, said Memorial Day this year assumed special significance because of the sacrifices made by the military following Sept.

11.

Also making speeches were Arizona highway patrol officer John Ortolano, justices of the peace John Taylor and Larry Imus, past American Legion commander Phil Brock and Brad Rucker, exalted ruler of the Kingman Elks Lodge 486.

Ortolano, a veteran of both the Army and Navy, served in Operation Desert Storm.

Participants closed the ceremony with a prayer and salute performed by the color guard of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3516.

VFW Post 10386 conducted a ceremony at 10 a.m.

at the post on John L Avenue and Bank Street.

The ceremony drew between 100 and 125 people, said Bill Alexander, commander of the color guard at the post.