YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — On Sunday, the annual Laying of the Rose ceremony happened at Federal Plaza in Youngstown.
The ceremony honors Mahoning County servicemembers who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. A tribute is also offered to prisoners of war and those who are missing in action.
“This is a time that we get together and we just let the whole world know that we will not forget the sacrifice of our loved ones and our friends,” said American Legion Post 30 Commander Antonio Crespo.
Family members and veterans place a single rose next to the memorial after the name of the fallen service member is read aloud. Crespo said it’s a day to be humble and remember the sacrifices made in Vietnam, as well as what their families endured.
“I couldn’t imagine hearing the worlds that your loved one has been killed at 18, 19 — you know, very young age at a place so far away,” Crespo said.
Bob Cooper is a Vietnam veteran who is now the treasurer and fundraising chair for Disabled American Veterans Chapter Two. He said honoring other servicemembers and veterans has a personal meaning to him.
“When I came home in February of 1968, when I landed in San Francisco, I was hit in the face with dog poop. And I do this because I want to make sure no veteran ever gets treated the way we got treated when we came home,” Cooper said.
He said being part of the DAV helped him cope with his losses and experiences in Vietnam.
“It wasn’t until I joined the DAV and have guys that know what I went through because they went through the same things that, you know, changed my life completely,” Cooper said.
He said he lost his best friend in Vietnam. He takes pride in being able to honor the fallen through the ceremony.