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Memorial Day comes as troops fight in Afghanistan | News

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Memorial Day comes as troops fight in Afghanistan
Memorial Day comes as troops fight in Afghanistan

ATLANTA -- Americans from Washington to California are marking Memorial Day with parades, barbecues and special tributes tied to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

An annual holiday honoring the nation's war dead was infused with new meaning this year, coming just months before the 10-year anniversary.

Memorial Day celebrants began filing into Marietta National Cemetery early this morning. As the noon commemoration approached, members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the driveway, welcoming everyone to the event.

Governor Nathan Deal made an appearance, giving thanks to the brave men and women who have fought in every major U.S. conflict, from the American Revolution to the War in Iraq.

Over the weekend, 1,500 local Boy Scouts placed flags at every headstone and saluted the fallen soldiers -- a tradition they have sustained since 1946.

In Roswell, as many as 6,000 people turned out for the Roswell Remembers Memorial Day Ceremony. It's considered the largest Memorial Day Ceremony in Georgia.

Susan Price took part in the laying of the wreath. She lost her son, Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, during an ambush in Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.

Kennefick was a 1998 graduate of Roswell High School, a football star, who served in the U.S. Marines for 12 years. He was twice named Marine of the Year.

"He was an American hero," Price said of her son. "I'm honored that the Lord gave him to me to mentor. Then he took over and mentored others. I'm very proud and honored to be his mother."

In Griffin, people paid tribute to more than 58,000 Americans killed during the Vietnam War. People paid their respects at the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall. During a tribute over the weekend visitors and volunteers read aloud each name on the wall.

President Barack Obama has paid tribute to the nation's war dead in a Memorial Day service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Speaking in front of a flag-draped wall in the cemetery's amphitheater, the president said the nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes "that we cannot ever fully repay."

He said what we can do is to honor their sacrifice, and follow their example of service.

After his remarks, Obama visited a section of the cemetery that is the final resting place for many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Earlier, the president and the first lady hosted a White House breakfast for families of troops killed in combat. Obama also laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.

The National Memorial Day parade in Washington was to include a special recognition for first responders to the 9/11 attacks and to victims' relatives. Actor Gary Sinise and Medal of Honor recipients from the Korean and Vietnam wars were among the guests.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan paused to remember the fallen in Memorial Day services. Some prayed and held flag-raising ceremonies.