Honoring fallen heroes

First Posted: 5/25/2009

It was obvious the threat of rain didnt hinder the citys Memorial Day Remembrance Service, which drew a crowd of more than 100 to the War Memorial Monday morning.
For 30 minutes, an audience of tourists, residents and veterans stood in a blocked off portion of North Main Street to honor the fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price.
The ceremony included a presentation and posting of colors by the City Honor Guard, an invocation by Commissioner Jon Cawley and remarks by North Carolina Rep. Sarah Stevens, who spoke to the crowd about remembering those who have sacrificed their time and lives, and seeing them as ambassadors of this country.
We sometimes see these soldiers giving gifts to underprivileged children or helping to rebuild homes or schools we need to see more often the things they are doing as (if they are) ambassadors of our United States, she told the audience.
She went on to say that the recognition soldiers deserve stretches beyond that exhibited on Memorial Day.
As a politician for five months now, Ive watched many politicians doing their jobs and those acts are frequently done in front of the eyes of the press … veterans, on the other hand, they do this stuff every day, they give their all without expectation of attention or praise. Theyre occasionally given medals for some acts, but thats not why they do it, she said. They do their jobs because of their pride, their sense of duty and their love of country, but do we give them that kind of praise regularly in the newspaper? Do we recognize the sacrifices they and their families make? Do we sometimes even know who they are until theyve paid that ultimate price? Their jobs often put them in the line of fire, they offer their lives to fulfill their obligations. How many of us would do that for a paycheck?
We might do it to protect our family, our loved ones, or even our neighbors, but would we do it for our country or state? Would we travel far and leave our family behind? This is what were celebrating today those who are willing to do that, those who paid the ultimate price, she continued.
Stevens mentioned local servicemen Pfc. Adam Lee Marion, 1st Lt. Leevi Khole Barnard and Chief Warrant Officer David Snow, who all died overseas while serving, and said it was important to celebrate their memory and sacrifices that protected U.S. citizens freedoms.
Humble men who dont expect praise … theyre not constantly demanding our credit in turn for their services theyre not demanding it, but we should give it, she said. Let us think of the people who appear on this monument.
She encouraged people to take several times throughout the day to remember the purpose of the holiday.
I want you to stop several times today and think of the true meaning of this day, she said. To borrow from a MasterCard commercial, buns and hot dogs, $3.50, a patriotic T-shirt from Wal-Mart, $8, the sacrifice of our veterans priceless, she said.
Mary Jo White, a resident of Surry County who attended the program, said she came to the service out of respect for those who have served including her husband, a veteran who recently passed away. She said she thought Stevens speech reflected the real purpose behind Memorial Day.
I think Sarah Stevens did a fantastic job, and I am so glad she complimented the veterans, they really needed to be complimented because they give the ultimate sacrifice, she said.
Monroe and Peggy Donathon said they also felt the same way, but wished more people would have come out despite the weather. Donathon said the couple make it a point to try and attend each service every year.
Well I thought it was a great service, but I was a little disappointed in the crowd, its usually a lot bigger, Monroe said.
Gina and Mary Alice Hoots sang God Bless America and a wreath-laying ceremony and 21-gun salute concluded the service.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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