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story.lead_photo.caption Everyone pauses in Linden on Saturday morning as a solo rendering of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is given to open the veterans celebration. Photo by Neil Abeles / Texarkana Gazette.

Linden's Veterans Salute on Saturday created a hum of friendly "thank you" and "congratulations" comments until "The Star-Spangled Banner" began.

Then, there was silence and salutes all around.

Charles Reedstrom, 97, originally from Minnesota and now of Linden, paused in telling his story. How he'd been quartermaster on the ship President Monroe as it neared Tarawa in November 1943 with 2,100 Marines aboard to take back that first island in the chain that led to Tokyo.

"We had 10,000 Marines in all," Reedstrom said. "And they had 4,500, but they'd had two years to prepare. Their leader said they could defeat a million invaders."

Reedstrom said if all the casualties were taken from his ship of 2,100, there would have been only 96 Marines left on board.

Navy veteran Charles Reedstrom, 97, shows off the shirt he wears for his nation's birthday, July 4, which is also an extra-special occasion since it is also his birthday.

Such a veteran is the reason behind the second annual Veterans Salute, Linden organizers said.

Saturday's event was a focused one. It had included a breakfast for veterans and families and then a four-hour effort to inform veterans of their opportunities for support and assistance.

The effort included a mobile VA unit, a disabled veterans booth, a Mission 22 effort to prevent suicide, tables filled with local veterans service groups' offerings and then a wide range of public interest and entertainment activities.

Garrett Juno of Shreveport, La., at right, is with the mobile Vet Center that travels the region with information for veterans. J.O. Wray, at left, has stopped by for information.

All of the effort seemed contained in the opening ceremony of the flag presentation by Boy Scouts and then the music of the national anthem. Hands went to hearts as veterans and nation were saluted properly.

The six organizations facilitating the event were Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, East Texas Veterans Resource Center, Lancer Legacy Ranch, Mustang Syndicate US and Linden Economic Development Corp.

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