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“People are already beginning to forget why we were there [in Iraq],” he said. “Whether it was the right reason or the wrong reason is immaterial; we had a reason to go.”

Janice Chance of Owings Mills clutched a framed photo of her son, Marine Corps Capt. Jesse Melton III, who died in 2008 in combat during an explosion in Afghanistan.

“Jesse, I know, would be happy to know that people remember,” she said, “that his service was not taken for granted.”