Honoring heroes

Published 11:00 pm Monday, May 28, 2012

Family members of the late Tommy Richard Hale cry after posting a flag in his honor to the Avenue of Flags during the American Legion Post 70 Memorial Day Observance in Troy, Ala., Monday, May 28, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Solemn ceremonies, thoughtful remembrances mark Memorial Day

A reverent quiet filled the air at Bicentennial Park as the names of fallen soldiers dating to World War I were read alound during the Memorial Day ceremony.

The ceremony began with words from Bob McLendon, commander of American Legion Post 70 in Troy, who noted the true purpose of Memorial Day as a day to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty.

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“We must remember especially today that behind each name is an American hero who gave their life for their country,” McLendon said in his address. “It is up to us to uphold their legacy with respect, reverence and utmost gratitude.”

McLendon wasn’t the only one to take the podium and give his thoughts on the fallen veterans of the armed forces, but the message was always one of respect.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford noted how the individual flags erected at the park each represented a different deceased veteran and the need to instill patriotism and pride in the younger generations.

Guest speaker  Col. William L. Jackson, (Ret.) who served in the Korean War in 1952 and was a graduate of Troy State Teacher’s College, noted the importance of keeping the fallen soldiers in memory.

“It’s a payback,” Jackson said after the ceremony. “These people, some volunteered and some were drafted, but they all did their duty. We have a nation that regardless of the faults we try to find in it is still the United States of America. There’s no other place like it.”

The ceremony was brought to a close on a somber note with the placing of the wreath, accompanied by Taps, the awarding of the Gold Star Mother to Bonnie Brown, who lost her son Johnny in the Iraq War, and the planting of two more American flags in honor of recently lost veterans earlier in April.

“Freedom is never free,” McLendon said. “It’s earned by those who fight for it and we should always honor those who lay their lives on the line for us. If we can’t honor those willing to go and fight then what are we about?”