By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An early memorial Day observance was held Thursday at the VA Medical Center in West Philadelphia.

Cyber Charter School student Akira McFarland recounted the heroic World War I exploits of two local doughboys who died on the battlefields of Europe.

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After the somber ceremony, a chaplain led a small procession outside, through the gloomy drizzle, to Woodland Cemetery for the laying of wreathes at the graves of those two soldiers: Captain Howard McCall and William Taber.

(credit: Paul Kurtz)

America entered the “War To End All Wars” 100 years ago. VA Medical Center Director Daniel Hendee says it is right and proper to remember those who fought for their country.

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“We commemorate the selflessness and sacrifice of those upon whose very lives rest on the foundation of freedom, and who set aside their personal aspirations for the preservation of our society,” said Hendee.

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There’s much more to come this weekend as the nation pays tribute to all those who gave their lives fighting for their country.