Families, friends remember loved ones in own way

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 29, 2000

&uot;Elmo Stewart, I-246,&uot; Leroy Coulston repeated as he left the Grave Locator book Monday at the Natchez National Cemetery.

Coulston was among several hundred people who scoured the cemetery on Memorial Day in order to find and then honor their loved ones that have served in America’s armed forces.

Luberta Bryant, who braved the blazing sun in her wheelchair, did not need the locator. She knows exactly where her two sons are buried, and visits every year.

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&uot;It’s sad, but I come anyway. We were very close. I miss them,&uot; the 85-year-old said.

The special day held to honor the veterans who have been buried in the Natchez National Cemetery brought back memories to others as well.

&uot;I served 18 months in the first Air Calvary in Vietnam, but there are a lot of guys that didn’t make it back,&uot; said Charles Rounds. &uot;Today makes it not be for nothing.&uot;

&uot;It’s not about us, though – you see those flags over there – that’s what today is about,&uot; Roy Koons of New Orleans said.

He pointed to a field of headstones decorated with tiny American flags. &uot;I never miss a Memorial Day,&uot; he added.

Others chose to remember in their own way.

&uot;I go to these graves, put on flowers, and say a few words. You can sit off by yourself and listen and really learn something,&uot; said Georgia Williams, who sat alone during the ceremony.

Her mother, father, daughter, and son are now laid to rest in the cemetery. Her husband, Frank Williams, is the commander of VFW Post 5 in Vidalia.

First Sargeant Joseph Conrad of the 386th Transportation Unit chose to decorate a trailer in red, white and blue to honor the men from his unit who have died since serving in Operation Desert Storm.

&uot;The Lord left me back here to carry on and honor them, and when I’m gone I hope that I will be honored. The very least we can do is show their families that we remember them and love them,&uot; Conrad said.

&uot;We need to remember, above all, if it wasn’t for these people buried here, we wouldn’t be here, either,&uot; said Johnny Rodriguez, a Vietnam veteran. &uot;I’ve been coming out here since I got back home in 1967. The crowds are getting bigger now. It shows people care. They really care.&uot;