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A day to remember the fallen veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the nation was observed at the California Nutrition Center on May 24.

Veterans and participants alike shared the stage and told the audience stories of their fallen brothers, uncles and family members who served the nation, but did not return home.

The special guest of the afternoon was Dale Deraps, father of Leon Deraps, a 19-year-old Jamestown native who served as a Marine and lost his life in Iraq.

"He was our last kid," Deraps said. "And he was a good one. He really had no enemies, and he was just anybody's friend."

Deraps said Leon and he worked together to resurrect the Boy Scouts in the California area when the boy was around 11 years old.

He then quoted retired Col. David Grossman on a special classification of people.

"Grossman said there are three different types of people," Deraps said. "There are the wolves, the sheep and the sheepdogs."

Sheepdogs go through the recruiters' offices and make the pledge to defend the Constitution, Deraps said.

"That kid had a sheepdog gene," he said of Leon. "He just got in there and did the right thing. Now, all we can do is to pray for the country and think of the sacrifice some have paid for all."

Just before Deraps' talk, James Lang shared a story of sacrifice that was close to his own heart.

"When I was a couple weeks into boot camp, I got called in to talk with a CO," Lang said. "Now, a CO is your company commander. I knew enough as a new guy, that usually meant your behind was in trouble."

The news Lang heard was about his brother who went missing in Vietnam. Six weeks later, the body of Lang's brother was found.

"He was only 27 years old," he said. "It's really pretty sad. His time was a lot shorter than it should have been, but he was greater for how he used it."

After the stories of gratitude were given, a reminder of another veteran-related service was announced.

The Central Missouri Honor Flight is accepting applications for veterans to fly to Washington, D.C., to visit monuments dedicated to those who served.

To further memorialize Moniteau County veterans, James Albin of the Moniteau County Historical Society gave an update on another project.

Albin said plans are in motion to build a memorial for Moniteau County fallen veterans for those in Walker and Linn Townships as well as McGirk. The memorial will be similar to the monument in Tipton, which currently bears 2,104 names.

"We can't do enough to honor our veterans," he said. "It's really a misnomer: freedom isn't free. Some had to fight to save this country."

Albin then shared a Bible verse that he said applies to veterans' sacrifices.

"John 15:13 states that no one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends," Albin said.

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