A gorgeous, clear day welcomed everyone Monday morning at the Elkin Municipal Park for the annual Memorial Day service. People of all ages, from children from local schools to retired veterans, came out to the flag pole next to the park’s pool to pay tribute to the nations’ veterans and fallen soldiers.
After a short welcome by Richard Hackler, commander of VFW Post 7794, the ceremony opened with the Presentation of Colors with the Junior Army ROTC Color Guard from Elkin High School and the singing of the National Anthem by Cadet Laken Lloyd from Elkin High School.
William Fletcher, assistant chaplain of VFW Post 7794, gave an invocation and prayer. “Our Heavenly Father, Creator and Ruler of our universe, we have come here to dedicate the 2016 roll of honor naming the men of this community who went forth as a living strength of our armed forces on land, sea, and in the air,” Fletcher said. “They are the comrades for whom we toiled and prayed for here at home to help make their efforts victorious so that they might return and live with us in lasting peace and security. These men are worthy of far greater recognition than mere words or markers. The sacrifices they made and the deeds they performed shall be written in history and shall remain alive in our memories for generations to come. We express sincerely our pride and gratitude for tasks they fulfilled.”
Hackler and Cadet Grant Lloyd of the Junior ROTC unit at Elkin High presented the laying of the wreath. Sam Bishop of VFW Post 7794 then introduced the day’s speaker, Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens.
“When Sam called me and asked me to speak today I felt very unequal to the task,” said Hutchens. “I had not served nor had I been deployed. I had not been asked to sacrifice. Sacrifice is so difficult to quantify and understand. The only ones who can truly understand what we memorialize here are the soldiers that fought with, flew with, or sailed with those who gave their lives.
“I believe all those who are deployed sacrifice a part of themselves on the ground there. Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terror have occupied our military in the last decades,” she said. “A type of tribal warfare where friend and foe appear the same. Human bombs and buried explosives have maimed and taken our soldiers’ lives and thousands upon thousands of civilians. There seems to be no end to these conflicts that are centuries old. But today we are here to honor those who have made the total sacrifice. President Lincoln said it best when we said, ‘We cannot dedicate. We cannot consecrate. We cannot hollow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far beyond our poor power to add or detract by giving all that they had to give. The ground they lie in is holy ground.’”
The ceremony then commenced with the Honor Roll for 2016, recognizing all the veterans who had passed away with the ringing of the bell. After some closing remarks from Hackler, Fletcher ended the ceremony with a closing prayer and the playing of “Taps.”
“As long as there are nations that are under oppression, as long as there are people who long to be free and cannot do it themselves, as long as there is a United States of America, there are going to be men and women who will volunteer, not because they like fighting, but because they love freedom,” said Hackler during his closing remarks. “It’s my prayer that we’ll take and recognize the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in battle and we will recognize those who have given up there time with family in order to go and serve and we will take in value what’s done. We’ll recognize that this nation is exceptional. It’s exceptional because god has made it exceptional. It’s exceptional because the men and women who’ve come here and the men and women who made the sacrifices were willing to do so.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058 or at firstname.lastname@example.org