Defending freedom a family affair

Published 4:52 pm Monday, May 30, 2011

A small crowd of veterans gathered just outside of Brundidge City Hall to pay tribute to their comrades who had given their lives in service to their country during a Memorial Day celebration Monday.

Gerald Murphy, retired staff sergeant with the U.S. Army, served tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm and has a son serving in Afghanistan, a granddaughter serving in Iraq and a grandson serving with the Army National 186 Engineer Company in Dothan.

Murphy said Memorial Day is a “special day for veterans” and he is proud of his family’s military service.

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Murphy said it is important for Americans to give this day to veterans.

“I served in two wars,” Murphy said. “Each individual living in the United States should give this day to veterans, because the veterans have made it possible for us to do what we want to. There are many countries overseas that don’t have the freedom that we have here.”

Murphy said veterans have given their time and their sacrifice to fight for American freedoms.

“The heroes are the ones that did not get to come back home,” Murphy said. “They really are the heroes, the veterans we honor today.”

Murphy said he feels honored to have served his country.

Private first class Josh Stanton, Murphy’s grandson, delivered the Warriors Prayer during the ceremony.

“For me to be here, representing my sister who is in Iraq and my uncle who can’t be here, along with other veterans who have died fighting for our country, means a lot to me,” Stanton said. “I’m proud to stand in their place and do what they would love to be here to do.”

Stanton said being around veterans is a good experience.

“They have a lot of good life stories and can guide you in the right direction down every path you take,” Stanton said.

Brian Byrd, Sergeant in the Army National Guard, served in Desert Storm with his unit, 900 Maintenance Company in Brundidge, Ala.

Byrd has served in his unit for 29 years and said he wishes more and more people would realize the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“I think a lot of people just don’t realize what the veterans went through to keep this country free,” Byrd said. “If it wasn’t for our veterans, this country wouldn’t be as great as it is today. It took men fighting and dying and giving up time with their families to keep everybody free to do what they’re able to do. The younger generations of Americans just don’t realize what the older generation went through.”

Byrd said he and his fellow comrades understand the strain military service puts on their families back home and said the families are heroes too.

“Those are the people you have to praise ¬– the families back home, who have to be without their father, their daughters and their sons, for years at a time,” Byrd said. “To me, those are really strong people.”

Byrd encourages young people to get involved with Memorial Day programs, as well as Veteran’s Day programs, in order to learn what the days are truly about – remembering the lost, the fallen and the many men and women in the Armed Services who were willing to give their lives to preserve America’s freedoms.