Never forget defenders of freedom

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Features Editor

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who lost their lives in defense of freedom.

It is also a time to remember those who served and pay tribute to those who are America’s peace keepers and defenders today.

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On Monday, Brundidge VFW 7055 took advantage of that opportunity.

As "Faith of Our Fathers" was being played on the chimes at Salem Baptist Church,

members of Post 7055 and the Pike County High School JROTC conducted a brief ceremony in memory of lost comrades which concluded with the playing of taps and the lowering of the American Flag to half-staff.

"We should never forget those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today," said Commander Henry Middlebrooks. "We must not forget those who have served to protect those freedoms and those who are, today, defending those freedoms." Middlebrooks said this Memorial Day is a special one with deep meaning to all Americans because, on this day, America must also remember those who were killed in an attack on our homeland.

"We have many to remember and many to remember and to thank," he said.

After the Memorial Day ceremony, VFW 7055 invited everyone to be a part of a special service at Fort Wendell K. Taylor National Guard Armory.

"We wanted to pay special tribute to an outstanding veteran and community servant on this Memorial Day," Middlebrooks said. "William Smith was a proud veteran. Anyone who ever talked to him knew that. He was one of the most patriotic people I have ever known."

Smith was a 50-year member of the Brundidge Lions Club and was called "Mr. Lion," every Lion who knew him.

He was very devoted to the Lions’ sight program, but is probably best remembered as one of the organizers of the club’s flag program

"He was instrumental in getting the flag program started," Middlebrooks said. "The Lions line the streets in the downtown area with flags on all national holidays. Mr. Smith was one of those who enjoyed putting out the flags as long as he could. He was a real patriot and we wanted to honor him."

In so doing, VFW 7055 planted a Freedom Tree in his memory on the grounds of the national guard armory.

The tree grew from seeds of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Green Ash Tree in Denison, Texas, Middlebrooks said.

"President Eisenhower was our 24th president and he was born in a small frame house in Denison," he said. "American Forests, through Freedom Trees, is dedicated to preserving our environment and teaching people about our national heritage."

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW Foundation, American Forests and the Scotts Company sponsor Freedom Trees.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower green ash tree was donated by Wal-Mart of Troy.

Middlebrooks expressed appreciation to Faye Kidd, community coordinator, and Wal-Mart for their support in honoring a proud patriot, William Smith.