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Veterans Day bring special emotion for Lawton mother

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LAWTON, Okla_Cameron University held its first ceremony in the newly dedicated Veterans Grove in honor of Veterans Day on Monday. Hundreds gathered to honor veterans young and old, living and deceased.

One mother of a fallen soldier mustered up the courage to help read aloud a list of 300 names of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each of the flags represents a hero and among them is one that represents Michael Cerrone. He was killed by a vehicle borne improvised explosive device in Iraq on Veterans Day six years ago. For the Cerrone family, Veterans Day is both a day to say thank you, but also mourn the loss of a son and a brother.

It started with a moment of silence after the colors were presented and the national anthem was sung

Next began the part of the ceremony that brought chills to those in attendance, 300 names of fallen soldiers were read, one by one.

Betty Cerrone took a portion of that list. With each name she read, she couldn't help but think of the families they left behind.

"There are so many and they're all in the same shoes we're in. The honor to them and the service they've given to their country."

Six years ago to the day, Betty was celebrating Veterans Day, honoring our nation's service men and women, when her world came to a sudden stop.

"He had a fight with his platoon sergeant that day to ride in the lead vehicle, which wasn't the typical place for the platoon leader and he won the argument. He got to ride lead vehicle, got the gunner of his choice and that day they were both killed."

Those who watched Betty read off the names of heroes could sense her strength. But behind it, are memories of six painful Veterans Days. But she said, the days leading up to Veterans Day, are the hardest.

"The anticipation, you know it's coming. You feel it everyday, but those days leading up to it, you just want to blink and make it go away."

Betty Cerrone said she's always been patriotic, with a husband and another son in the military but now, November 12th evokes an entirely different form of patriotism.

"Enormous emotion. You see it on TV. You see all the ceremonies. You see all the celebration, so sometimes it's kind of neat to know that Michael's being remembered during this time of the year, it's just pride."

Betty said from the moment her son Michael graduated from high school he wanted to serve his country just like his father. He had one school of choice, West Point. In fact, it was the only school he applied for. She said she asked him what he would have done if he hadn't been accepted and he told her, enlist anyway. She said serving his country was all he knew.

Cameron University officials say the Veterans Grove is in its infant stages, with a few small trees and just two benches, but they have big plans for it in the future.

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