7 Former Sayville High School Students Memorialized ForeverBy Jennifer McLogan

SAYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — For years, some families of Korean and Vietnam war veterans felt their brave loved ones were overlooked.

But on Monday on Long Island, seven soldiers from the same home town were finally acknowledged for their courage and bravery decades ago, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

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Down Main Street they marched. The hamlet of Sayville was filled with emotion and inspiration bestowing honors long overdue.

Tiny tots, their parents and grandparents were on hand waving flags and sharing smiles, decades after their relatives gave their lives. Those names at long last have been proudly chiseled into new granite monuments in Sparrow Park on the village green.

Soldiers of the “forgotten wars” have finally gotten their due.

“Korean War was the forgotten war, Vietnam was the hated war,” said William Perry, the son of a fallen Korean War hero.

Among those overwhelmed at the recognition of the seven soldiers were the son and widow of Army Sgt. Robert Ritter. Killed in action in 1950, Sgt. Ritter died serving as combat photographer for the U.S. in Korea.

“It’s very emotional and I am so proud that Sayville did this in honor of my husband,” Theresa Perry said.

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Sayville Memorial Day remembrance

Veterans paid tribute to local soldiers who lost their lives in the Korea and Vietnam wars during a special ceremony on Memorial Day 2011 in Sayville, N.Y. (Photo: CBS 2)

“This recognition means so much to the families. Sergeant Ritter here was totally forgotten,” Sayville historian Christopher Bodkin told McLogan.

Ritter never made it home. His remains are in North Korea.

“Perhaps the day will come when the remains can be brought back,” one veteran said. “Then Sgt. Ritter will receive the hero’s funeral he so richly and rightly deserves.”

“This is a wonderful day, a very somber day, as it should be and should have been a long time ago,” William Perry added.

Seven local heroes from small town America who lost their lives in distant lands finally received the thanks of a grateful nation.

All seven soldiers, whose names are now permanently etched on the war memorial, attended Sayville High School.

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Jennifer McLogan