State Veterans Home remembers servicemen in annual ceremony

COLLINS, MS (WDAM) - The State Veterans Home in Collins celebrated fallen, retired and active servicemen Monday in an annual Memorial Day service.

"Back then, it was a bad time," said World War II veteran and resident Charles Kroen. "I was with a great bunch of men, the greatest bunch of men I've ever met in my life."

Kroen flipped through a book after the ceremony that was written by his squad leader of their time on the warfront, recounting where he was when the war ended.

"We crossed the Yser Canal and the Danube River," said Kroen. "We went all the way, and we were with the Russians when the war ended."

Memorial Day is day of gratitude for Kroen, as he remembers every man in his squad coming home alive.

"[I was] a fortunate squad leader to bring every man home alive," he said. "I don't know how many can say that all their men came home alive, but I can and that was a great thing for me."

James Brunton is a Vietnam veteran and state veterans home resident, and he was presented with the American flag at Monday's celebration.

"I've never had one this big," he said. "Maybe we'll fly it."

Brunton's loyalty and love for his country was obvious as he fought back tears as names were read of fallen soldiers in Monday's service.

"A respect for all those that have kept this country together," he said. "You have to do it, he's got to do it, everybody standing around here has got to do it."

While Memorial Day is observed to remember veterans who have passed, Kroen said it's also a day that he and fellow veterans will be reminded of their years of service to this country.

"We all remember it, no matter what," he said. "We never forget it. It's good that people do remember what we did to keep this world free."

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