For the first time, the United Veterans Council arranged a sunrise service at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Montana State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Al Olszewski drove down from his home in Kalispell to pay his respects as a U.S. Air Force veteran.

“This is personal to me,” said Dr. Olszewski. “As a military surgeon, I’ve had the opportunity to care for those who are wounded, and those who did not survive, especially through the first Persian Gulf War. It’s truly an honor to be here today for the very start of the Memorial Day with the laying of the wreaths here at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery.

Mem Day

Olszewski also acknowledged and honored the many veterans who had taken their own lives since returning from combat.

“It is also today that we recognize those who brought back the war with them and then laid down their lives through the act of suicide as they could not face another day dealing with the struggles and the horrors of the war that they dealt with so many years ago,” he said.

Mem Day

The sunrise service was part of 12 separate events featuring the laying of 52 wreaths at various locations throughout Missoula on Memorial Day, recognized as the nation’s leader in the number of ceremonies, thanks to the United Veterans Council, the American Legion and other veterans organizations.