Vermont Soldier Is Laid To Rest

07/19/10 7:35AM By Steve Zind
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AP/Alden Pellett
The honor guard passes by a picture of Spc. Ryan Grady of West Burke, Vt., as they carry his casket out of the church following the end of funeral services for the fallen soldier, Saturday at the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury.

(Host) A 25 year old soldier with the Vermont National Guard has been laid to rest.

Specialist Ryan J. Grady of West Burke died July 2nd, when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

This weekend, friends and family remembered Grady for his devotion to his family and to his country.

VPR's Steve Zind reports.

(Zind)  Dozens of small flags covered the lawn in front of the North Congregational Church in Saint Johnsbury. 

(organ music)

(Zind) Inside the imposing stone Victorian-style church, Ryan Grady's flag draped casket was flanked by more flags.

A large military contingent in crisp, dark uniforms joined friends, state officials and members of Grady's family, including his father, Jim, an army drill sergeant.  All three of his sons have followed him into the army.  And two of them, including Ryan were deployed with the guard in Afghanistan earlier this year.

In his remarks, Vermont Adjutant General Michael Dubie described Grady as a big man with a big heart. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war, Grady joined the guard to serve in Afghanistan. Dubie says he and his fellow soldiers are members of a generation called to the service in the wake of September 11th, 2001.

(Dubie) "To me, they're the next ‘greatest generation' of Americans.  That's who they are."

(Zind) Family and friends also spoke of Grady a caring person; a fun-loving man devoted to his family.

When the chaplain asked if anyone else would like to speak, Grady's six year old daughter, Alexis, raised her hand.

(Alexis sings) 

(Zind) She sang a short impromptu song about her father. 

The service included another unusual musical selection:  Home on the Range.  The Gradys are from Kansas originally and requested that the congregation join them in that state's official song. 

(Home On The Range is sung)

(Zind) After the service, Grady's funeral procession moved slowly through town, followed by a large contingent of veterans on motorcycles.  Grady was buried in St. Johnsbury.

For VPR news, I'm Steve Zind


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