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Families visit loved ones at veterans cemetery


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BLUFFDALE -- There were lots of festivities throughout Utah on this Veterans Day. Some people, though, didn't need all that to say thank you to our soldiers. They just did it themselves.

One of them is Elizabeth Deschner of Layton. She visited her father at the Utah Veterans Memorial Park on 17111 Camp Williams Rd. in Bluffdale.

Deschner pointed to a headstone and said, "This is my dad, Guy Columbus Coates Jr. He died on March 4, 2007."

Her father served in the United States Army during the Korean War.

On Wednesday, she and her family decided to put on a little production for him. With a radio playing patriotic music, the family said thank you, we miss you and we love you. Deschner said she is the youngest of her father's children, so she was always daddy's little girl.

"My dad raised us to be very respectful and patriotic of where we live, of the flag and of the commander in chief. That's how we grew up," she said while fighting back tears. "He was never really open about his experiences during the war, but he was always very strong."

Her father is one of 3,446 soldiers buried at the Utah Veterans Memorial Park.

Some of the wars etched into headstones include World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, or like Master Sgt. Robert F. Gillies: all three of those wars.

There are those with Purple Hearts, and those with families who miss them with all their hearts.

"He was dedicated in serving his country," said Thomas Brownlee, whose father once drove a Jeep for General Patton. "These soldiers make such a sacrifice, and sometimes they make the ultimate sacrifice when they lose their lives for our freedom."

Brownlee and his mother come to the memorial park often to check on dad and to make sure his final resting place looks good.

Chelsea Garner of Eagle Mountain was also at the memorial park with her three young boys. They don't have a loved one buried at the memorial park, but she wanted her boys to know what the word veteran means and why they are so important.

"I want to teach them about our country and the freedoms that we enjoy," said Garner. "I think it's important to educate them about the importance of Veterans Day and why we have so many wonderful men and women who serve."

Others came to remember the past, to introduce new children or just to share a tender moment.

Veterans Day may only happen once a year on the calendar, but for those who come to the memorial park to visit loved ones, Veterans Day happens all the time.

"Whenever I see a veteran or someone in uniform, I like to say thank you because they do so much for our country," said Brownlee.

Many families KSL spoke to also said it was important not to forget about veterans of our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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Alex Cabrero

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