Paulette Lee walked among the gravestones in Beaufort National Cemetery on Wednesday after placing an American flag at her husband's marker and searching for the name of a neighbor.
Lee drives to Beaufort twice a year from Charleston to remember her husband of 30 years, Charles Thomas Lee. He served in the U.S. Navy more than 20 years and fought in Vietnam, his wife said.
Charles Lee died in 2012 at age 66. He worked 25 years at Walmart after he left the Navy.
"(He's) still dear to my heart," Paulette Lee said after a Veterans Day ceremony in the cemetery had ended. "He served his country, and he served it proudly. He enjoyed his time in the military."
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Before the ceremony, a Veterans Day parade wound through downtown Beaufort. The event included the Parris Island Marine Band, area high schools ROTC programs and bands and veterans groups.
The cemetery ceremony included thoughts from Beaufort National Cemetery director Craig Arsell and keynote speaker Dan McNeill, a retired U.S. Army general with 40 years of service whose final assignment was in Afghanistan.
Under a warm midday sun, McNeill said he didn't appreciate Veterans Day as a child. It wasn't until he was an adult that he understood the holiday meant more than a free pass from school.
He told stories of several notable veterans, including Jeremiah Denton, the Vietnam-era prisoner of war who reported torture by blinking in Morse code during a North Vietnamese propaganda video.
McNeill talked of those still serving.
"Our warriors won't back down," he said.
Arsell, a U.S. Navy veteran, reminded the crowd that remembering veterans shouldn't be limited to Nov. 11.
"It is our duty," he said, "not just on Veterans Day, but every day."
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
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