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Wreaths Across America ceremony remembers the fallen, and one mother who lost her son in Iraq always attends

Seven wreaths went up Saturday at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex at the annual Wreaths Across America event commemorating the veterans who died for their country, along with prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Relatively sparse attendance at this year’s ceremony may have been due to the cold weather. But one woman sitting quietly in the second row said she never misses it.

Thirteen years ago, Darlene Moore’s son U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James Moore was the first of Douglas County’s sons to die in Iraq after 9/11.

After the ceremony, Darlene Moore and others laid many wreaths on the graves of the fallen. She laid one for her son and one for her father-in-law. They’re buried side by side at the old Roseburg National Cemetery on West Harvard Avenue.

It’s people like her who have borne the true cost of war, and no ceremony can give her back what she’s lost. James Moore, like many young men, entered the military for idealistic reasons. He was deeply affected by the 9/11 attack, Darlene Moore said.

Moore didn’t want her only son to join the military. She told him she’d need him to take care of her in her old age — to no effect.

“He couldn’t wait to get over there. That’s the way boys are,” she said.

Moore died Jan. 26, 2005, when his helicopter was caught in a sandstorm. He was 25 — killed when his mother still thought of him as a boy.

“You know how boys play Army, play war. He wanted to protect his family. He didn’t want the war to come to (his niece’s) backyard,” she said.

She recalled that when the Marines came to her door to inform her of her son’s death, she lost it. She kicked them, but they just stood at attention, tears in their eyes. She couldn’t accept it. But the Marines remained for eight days to help them through the transition. Later, she thanked them.

Even now, laying a wreath at her son’s grave, she said she felt like she was going to have a heart attack. She could feel her heart pumping and her hands were wet.

She’ll be back at the grave again on Christmas Eve. Every year the family places candles at the graves of James and his grandfather James Alvin Moore. Usually it’s foggy, and the light illuminates the fog.

It’s pretty, but it doesn’t bring him back. Neither does the ceremony, but she’ll be here every year, nonetheless.

“It’s very important to come to show your support and your patriotism,” she said.

Alek Skarlatos, the Army National Guard veteran who became famous for his part in thwarting a would-be terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015, delivered the keynote speech at Saturday’s ceremony.

“We are gathered here today at this memorial site and memorial sites across America to remember that we are one nation with one flag. We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people, many races and many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear,” he said.

He said the United States was founded on the ideals of freedom, justice and equality.

“Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free,” he said.

After he spoke, veterans came forward to set seven wreaths representing each branch of the military, including the Merchant Marines and prisoners of war and those missing in action.

World War II veterans George Insley and George Burson were rolled up in wheelchairs but set wreaths nonetheless, with a little assistance. Burson, who’s 97 and a half, is an Air Force veteran. He said after the ceremony that he finds the event impressive. As a pilot during the war, Burson was shot down over Germany and lived in a prisoner of war camp until he was rescued nine months later by the Russians. As he laid the wreath, he remembered those left behind.

“I was thinking about my bomber crew,” he said.

Phyllis Poe, his significant other, accompanied him at the ceremony, along with Bikers for Christ member Don Garino. Poe said they are very patriotic.

“When I go to a parade and see somebody who won’t stand for the flag I get so mad I go tell them,” she said.

Daniel Rice laid the wreath for the Merchant Marines. He said he’s glad that branch is included. The Merchant Marines had many casualties during World War II but weren’t recognized as veterans until 1988.

“It’s moving, it’s very moving to be on these hallowed grounds like this and to pay respects to those that have gone before us,” Rice said.


Three food trucks operate at The Lot in Roseburg on Friday. A fourth truck, Willie Pete’s Chili and Eats was approved this week to park at The Lot, but no sign of it has been seen so far.

Winston-Dillard selected for National Water Quality Initiative to improve drinking water sources

The cities of Winston and Dillard have been selected for assistance through a federal program to improve drinking water quality.

The community is one of five others in Oregon and 16 nationwide selected for the National Water Quality Initiative as part of the recent Farm Bill.

Local farmers and ranchers will be able to receive funding to implement conservation practices to reduce agricultural impacts on water quality in Lookingglass Creek — a tributary of the South Umpqua River, where the Winston-Dilard Water District draws water.

Assessments by state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality show that human impairments to Lookingglass Creek and the South Umpqua River financially burden the water treatment plant, according to Julie Harvey, a drinking water specialist with DEQ. The community was also chosen for the program because it may not be able to implement necessary conservation practices without funding assistance, Harvey added.

Under the Clean Water Act, state agencies must monitor rivers and streams and identify parameters for which water quality doesn’t meet standards.

Lookingglass Creek exceeds standards for temperature, algae, E. coli and iron levels, according to Harvey. The stream’s water flow and surrounding habit have also been modified in a way that doesn’t meet standards.

Other parameters in the creek basin may not meet standards, but there is currently insufficient data to make definitive determination.

“In that ‘insufficient data’ category are: ammonia, phosphate, sedimentation and some various metals,” Harvey said. “All of those are related to sediment washing off properties and carrying with it those pollutants to the water.”

These impairments pose risks to key aquatic wildlife such as salmon and add treatment costs to drinking water facilities, Harvey said.

The Winston-Dillard drinking water facility serves 8,300 people, according to its website.

Aging drinking water facilities across the South Umpqua basin have long required expensive and often unaffordable upgrades to meet standards. This summer Oakland received a $1.2 million grant to from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade it’s water intake system. Extreme drought compounded with the old system making it difficult to deliver sufficient water to customers.

While the federal assistance in Winston-Dillard won’t upgrade the drinking water facility, the program’s conservation initiatives will reduce the cost of water treatment by improving environmental quality.

“Examples of conservation practices that could be implemented on farmlands include planting trees along streams and waterways to serve as natural buffers, building fences to keep cattle away from drinking water sources, installing off-channel livestock watering facilities, managing fertilizer applications, forest health practices and more,” according to the Natural Resources and Conservation District press release.

Mary Beth Smith, Oregon coordinator for the program with NRCS, said that it will be entirely up to landowners whether or not they participate in the program. The agency is not regulatory, Smith said, and therefore the program intends to attract willing participants.

She said members of the Partnership for Umpqua Rivers and the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District have demonstrated interest in having local farmers and ranchers participate.

“It’s so valuable having voluntary conservation,” Smith said. “If you do it right you can get ahead of regulation or you can certainly minimize the need for regulation.”

She said the next steps include finalizing agreements with partner agencies and precisely identifying conservation methods that will produce the most benefit for the watershed.

Mike Henneke/News-Review

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The cities of Winston and Dillard have been selected for assistance through a federal program to improve drinking water quality.