Americans gathered on Memorial Day at Oak Hill Cemetery to honor deceased veterans.
Lawrence native Warren Hodges is so quiet, kind and good natured you can't imagine him ever killing anyone.
But former Army Maj. Gen. Hodges made war his world and battle his profession in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
On Monday, he returned to Lawrence from Churchville, Md., to be with a brother, retired Marine Lt. Col. Ervin Hodges, himself a veteran of Korea and Vietnam, to honor 265 brethren at Oak Hill Cemetery.
The men stood shoulder-to-shoulder near the cemetery's eternal flame, surrounded by fallen comrades buried in Veterans Plot.
"It's like our little Arlington National Cemetery," Warren Hodges said.
The Memorial Day service conducted by Dorsey-Liberty Post No. 14 of the American Legion included singing of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," a 21-gun salute to the dead and playing of "Taps" by bugler Jeff Miller.
Similar services were sponsored Monday by other organizations at area cemeteries: Disabled American Veterans at Maple Grove Cemetery; Veterans of Foreign Wars at Memorial Park Cemetery; and Clinton Cemetery Flower Club at Clinton Cemetery.
Army Lt. Col. Donald Denmark, a professor at Kansas University with the Army ROTC, set the tone for the Oak Hill service.
"The hallowed ground we inhabit today is but a small sampling of the cost of freedom," Denmark said.
Surveying flower-adorned tombstones, he said not all soldiers were able to receive a medal or ride in a parade down Main Street.
"But today," he said, "we honor those who paid in blood for our comfort."
About 150 people gathered to see nine U.S. flags added to the cemetery's Avenue of Flags. They honor veterans who died in the last year.
"I just love to see those flags flying and to know where they came from," said Alan Fisher, a World War II veteran and 1995-96 Dorsey-Liberty post commander.
Ervin Hodges, who moved back to Lawrence in 1990, said ties that grew between people in war had great strength. Millions of Americans don't understand that powerful fraternalism, he said.
"The closeness of people who served in combat is as close an affiliation you can have. Comradeship lasts forever," he said.