Bob Cusick was one of the lucky ones.
When Cusick visits Deschutes Memorial Gardens, he doesn’t see rows of headstones — he sees 100 fellow veterans he once knew. About half of the company he served with as a Marine during the Vietnam War has a name engraved upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
But Cusick, who serves as the commander of Bend Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1643, got to come home. Every Memorial Day for the past 30 years, Cusick considers it his duty to honor those who didn’t.
“It’s part of my duty as a veteran who came back alive that fallen veterans are honored,” he said. “I consider it an honor getting out and doing this.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is one many organizations putting on 14 events over the weekend throughout Deschutes County to honor Memorial Day.
Cusick urged people to treat the day like more than a regular holiday.
“To me, Memorial Day is very important,” he said. “This country was not bought by a dollar bill. It was bought by the blood by the veterans who served.”
The following events have been organized in Central Oregon to honor veterans who died in U.S. military service:
• Saturday — Bend VFW will post U.S. flags on veterans’ graves at 9 a.m. at Deschutes Memorial Gardens, Pilot Butte and Greenwood cemeteries in Bend. For more information, contact Cusick, commander of Bend VFW Post 1643, at 541-419-8463 or Mark Wirges at 541-420-5726.
• Sunday — A car show and barbecue will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bend Elks Lodge, 63120 Boyd Acres Road to benefit Veterans and Battle Buddies of Central Oregon. Car registration begins at 8 a.m. For information, email Kristina Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.battlebuddiesco.org.
• Sunday — Warm Springs VFW will place U.S. flags on graves of veterans at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Johnathan Courtney at 541-771-2564.
• Monday — A wreath-laying ceremony hosted by Bob Shaw of KTVZ will take place at 1 p.m. at Deschutes Memorial Gardens in Bend. An open house reception will follow at Bend VFW Hall at 1503 NE Fourth St., Bend. For more information, contact Cusick at 541-419-8463.
• Monday — A flyover will be conducted at 10 a.m. at Mt. Jefferson Cemetery, Madras, followed by a memorial service with flag dedication, 21-gun salute and taps. For more information, contact Duane Ledford, 541-788-3642.
• Monday — For the 12th year, volunteers from Central Oregon will conduct We Are Remembering — Not Just a Number, a continuous reading of the name, age and hometown of every U.S. service person killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003. The reading will go from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Troy Field in downtown Bend. For more information, visit www.weareremembering.com.
• Monday — A parade of flags is scheduled for 7 a.m. at Bend Heroes Memorial, 35 NW Drake Road, Bend. The event honors Bend’s 112 veterans who gave their lives during combat from World War I to the present. For more information, contact Dick Tobiason, 541-390-9932.
• Monday — American Legion Post 45 is holding a Memorial Day ceremony from 11 a.m. to noon, at La Pine Cemetery. There will be a barbecue afterwards at American Legion Post 45. For more information, call the American Legion Hall at 541-536-1402.
• Monday — A Memorial Day Gala and parade will be held at 10 a.m. at Fourth and Main streets in Prineville. There will be a memorial ceremony at the cemetery, then a re-dedication of Veterans Memorial at the Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Jim Taylor at 541-350-9766.
• Monday — The Terrebonne Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. at Pioneer Cemetery on Smith Rock Way in Terrebonne. More information can be found at http://www.vfw4108.org.
• Monday — A memorial ceremony organized by the Redmond American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will be held at 11 a.m. in Redmond Memorial Gardens, 3545 S. Canal Blvd. For more information, visit http://www.vfw4108.org.
• Monday — The community is invited to honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives defending the United States at the Sisters Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. in Village Green Park. A barbecue lunch will follow the ceremony. For more information, contact Lance Trowbridge at 541-903-1123 or Pat Bowe at 541-588-0912.
— Reporter: 541-633-2160, email@example.com