Chesterton | More than 100 people assembled at the Indiana Memorial Wall at Porter Avenue and Ind. 49 for a Memorial Day service Sunday afternoon.
The Vietnam Veterans of America Porter County Chapter 905 hosted the event, as it has since 1999.
The service featured prayers, poems, a drill exhibition by the Portage High School Junior ROTC, speakers and the reading of the names of local residents killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keynote speaker Julia Jent, Porter County Superior Court judge, took the opportunity to highlight the county’s veterans’ treatment court.
Jent said many veterans return from service with “deep and visible wounds” and “full of confusion and anger,” and some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Jent said there was no better way to repay the country’s debt to members of the military “than to serve those that served, and are struggling to survive.”
“We must make it our mission to help and to get involved,” said Jent, who is also a veteran.
Americans are indebted to those who died, as well as to those who return, Jent said.
“They do it because they love our country and they believe in our Constitution,” Jent said.
Portage High School JROTC instructor John Johnston drew frequent applause during his speech, as he urged the audience to “build patriotism into everything that we do.”
“Never be ashamed to stand up and be a flag waver,” Johnston said. “Let’s do this all the time, not just at the end of May.”
Logan Castro, a 16-year-old Life Scout, was honored for his work refurbishing the grounds surrounding the wall for his Eagle Scout Project.
“I chose this project to respect and honor the men on the wall behind me,” Castro said. “This wall and this Memorial Day will always be special to me and my family.”
Kenita Kersten, of Portage, said her late husband, Ron, also a veteran, was active with the Vietnam Veterans chapter and would be “proud of this today and how it looks” after Castro’s work.
“We are all very proud of that young man,” Kersten said.