A series of three public memorials will be held at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex next week to honor 28 veterans whose remains were forgotten on the shelf at a local mortuary — some for as many as 44 years.

The first service will be held at 1 p.m. May 14 and will honor four veterans who served in World War I. The Douglas County Veterans Forum, which is organizing the event, is encouraging members of the public to attend the service.

The remains have been securely stored at the Douglas County Courthouse since April 19 and will be transported to the cemetery in a horse drawn carriage with police escort.

The ceremony will include a flag line, processions by veteran motorcycle groups, singing of the National Anthem, prayers, eulogies, obituary readings, a bell-ringing ceremony, rifle salutes, flag folding and playing of taps. Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard and service honor guard military personnel will also participate, and bagpipe honors will be provided by Pipes of Honor, followed by interment of the remains in the cemetery’s columbarium.

Subsequent ceremonies will be held at 1 p.m. May 15 and 16. The second service, on May 15, will inter 11 Army veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The third, on May 16, will inter seven Navy and Air Force veterans. These veterans will receive the same services and military honors as those honored the first day, including transport in the horse drawn carriage.

The remains were discovered through the efforts of Veterans Forum member Carol Hunt and Gigi Grimes, the former cemetery technician for the Roseburg National Cemetery. They searched for veterans among the Wilson’s Chapel of the Roses’ records on the cremated remains left unclaimed by relatives. They found 28, all of whose deaths predated the current ownership and management of Wilson’s, the most recent having been in 2000. Efforts to find and contact the veterans’ families are ongoing.

Forum member Jim Little said he hopes community members turn out in large numbers to the memorials.

“In other communities across our nation when forgotten veteran remains were discovered the services were attended by thousands. We feel Roseburg can do likewise,” Little said.

Several state and federal officials will attend the event, including Gena Farrisee, the executive director for strategy and analysis for the National Cemetery Administration; Constantin Severe, public safety policy advisor to Gov. Kate Brown; and field representatives for Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio. Representatives of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and the military branches are also anticipated to attend, Little said.

Event organizers recommend community members planning to attend a ceremony arrive at least 45 minutes before the service to secure parking.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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