Saying ‘thank you’

Published 4:52 pm Monday, May 30, 2011

A sizable crowd gathered Monday at the Bicentennial Park in Troy to honor the many fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, defending our freedoms and the freedoms of others.

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford was present to share in the memory of the heroic men and women who gave their all in service and said Memorial Day is not “just another day.”

“It’s absolutely wonderful to see such a large crowd to come out and say, ‘thank you,’ to those who have given the supreme sacrifice,” Lunsford said. “It’s a moving experience to know that every flag that you see flying in this park corresponds to a name that is posted on the wall of honor to say thank you to those that have died that have served us.”

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Lunsford said he was overjoyed and appreciative to the individuals who take the time to honor real American heroes by decorating the park with flags.

“I take an opportunity to come out when the scouts are putting the flags up and I take the young kids over to the monument to make sure they know they’re not just putting something ‘pretty’ out for the holidays, they’re putting up something meaningful,” Lunsford said. “Almost every year, one of the kids will say, ‘that’s my granddaddy,’ or will recognize a family name. It’s all very meaningful to me.”

Lunsford, who is a retired major for the U.S. Army, said he feels a “tremendous connection” with many of the prior service men and women present at the park during Monday’s Memorial Day celebration.

“I’m thankful for their sacrifice and very thankful for the families that are still surviving with the loss of a loved one,” Lunsford said. “I’m just thankful that we have people like that in this country. Pike County is a very patriotic county, which is evidenced by the number of people you see that do come out to show their respects.”

Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Griffith, retired U.S. Army, was the guest speaker at the memorial ceremony.

Griffith said Memorial Day is the day Congress set aside to remember those who gave their “supreme sacrifice.”

“Memorial Day, to me, is all about honoring our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Griffith said. “For me, to stand up there and deliver a short speech honoring our heroes, was an honor.”

Griffith said he felt he needed to get the message out that Memorial Day is more than just the “signal for the start of summer vacation” for a lot of people.

“People need to remember where they are and how they got there and who made that possible,” Griffith said. “Without those sacrifices we may not be the country we are.”

Griffith said he believes honoring veterans should not just be on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, but everyday.

“A veteran understands a veteran,” Griffith said. “We understand that, although we are there to fight for the loftier principles – such as freedom, our rights and the constitution – we are also there to fight for our buddy. When you’re down in the trenches and fighting hand-to-hand combat, you are there for the guy next to you.”

Griffith served two tours in Vietnam, the first tour with the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne and the second tour with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV).