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Nation, NC Remember War Veterans on Memorial Day

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RALEIGH — North Carolina veterans and their supporters gathered across the state Monday to pay tribute to those who died in the line of duty.

Many of those who paid tribute served with friends they lost in battle. For them, Memorial Day is dedicated to those fallen friends.

"It's an important day for two reasons. We honor the men we've lost in combat over the years [in] all wars. And we keep in touch with each other as surviving veterans," says Cmdt. Douglas Poe, N.C. Marine Corps League.

Some consider Memorial Day the forgotten holiday. But it is a sacred, solemn occasion to others.

"We have to honor our comrades who have fallen, who were killed in the various wars. People are tending to forget and we can't let them forget," says Cmdt. Jim Haslam, Tarheel Detachment, MCL.

In Fayetteville, veterans held a ceremony to remember the 16 members of the Green Berets who died within the last year.

"You've got to remember the guys that fought with you. Some of them saved your own life," says Special Forces Association administrator Jimmy Dean.

The Special Forces Association has held this observance for more than 30 years.

Most businesses and government offices were closed Monday.

Several schools held classes, but the classrooms were hardly full.

Students and staff were scheduled to be in class at Wake County, Cumberland County, Orange County, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and Johnston County schools to make up for the dozens of days missed during January's snowstorm.

But many parents made their Memorial Day plans long before the winter mess turned the holiday into a school day. As a result, Wake County's Fred Olds Elementary reported an absentee rate of 20 percent.

Some parents used Memorial Day as "Excused Leave" for their kids. If they can prove their child learned something, and can tell the class about it, the absence is excused.

Many of the students who were in school were thinking about being out of school. And that was OK with teacher Debra Brown, whose first-grade class was missing 12 of 22 students.

"I said, 'Well, what would you like to do?' and then Spencer said, 'Let's write about what we would be doing if we were not here today.' And I said, 'Perfect,'" says Brown.

Some students said low Memorial Day turnout was actually a plus, with smaller classes and a break in the noisy routine.