Honor & Serve

Published 6:45 pm Monday, May 26, 2014

Dozens gathered at the Tupper Lightfoot Library in Brundidge on Memorial Day to honor American servicemen that died in combat. (Photo/Jaine Treadwell)

Dozens gathered at the Tupper Lightfoot Library in Brundidge on Memorial Day to honor American servicemen that died in combat. (Photo/Jaine Treadwell)

By Jaine Treadwell and Ryan McCollough

Memorial Day programs honor those who died in service

Memorial Day services were held all across the country Monday, in every city and every hamlet in the land.

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But at any given location, there were probably more people in shopping centers than attending the services to honor those who gave their lives in service to their county.

“Freddie Turner, VFW Post 7055, said the Memorial Day sun didn’t keep a record number of patriots from attending the two services conducted by VFW Post 7055 in Brundidge.

The Post conducted Memorial Day services at 9 a.m. at the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library in Brundidge and an 11 a.m. service at Elam Cemetery in Elamville where more than 60 veterans are buried.

Post Commander Henry Middlebrooks said the gathering at the Brundidge public library was the largest since the Post has been conducting the service there.

“Maybe we’re getting the word out better or maybe it’s just that people are realizing the sacrifices it takes to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy,” Middlebrooks said. “Today is all about those men and women who lived in service to their country and made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. To honor them, we should live our lives in service to our country.”

Living one’s life in service to country doesn’t mean that every citizen has to fight on a foreign battlefield. But it does require something as simple as saluting the flag and honoring America’s veterans, living and deceased.

Alabama State Sen. Billy Beasley, an Army veteran, was the guest speaker at the service at Elam Cemetery.

“I’m proud to be an American and I’m proud to have served my country,” Beasley said. “I cherish the freedoms that we have and I honor the men and women who fought for those freedoms and to preserve them.”

Beasley said he was honored to be able to attend a Memorial Day service.

“Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country,” he said. “There is nothing greater that one can do and we should honor their sacrifice.”

Beasley said every retail store in the country should be closed on Memorial Day.

“The almighty dollar will be there the next day,” he said.

Beasley said Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, a day that was set aside to put flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers.

“After World War I, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and we should take time to honor those brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifice. We should never forget their sacrifice.”

Beasley also paid tribute to the veterans of the battlefields.

“When a soldier loses a buddy next to him in a foxhole, that’s a memory that he carries for life,” he said. “Today, we remember and honor those who died in service to their country and we honor all those who served.”

American Legion Post 70 held a Memorial Day service at Bicentennial Park in Troy as well.

During the ceremony, the name of every Pike County resident that has been killed in combat from World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom was read aloud.

One of the names read was that of John Brown, a Troy man that lost his life in Iraq 10 years ago. During the ceremony, his mother, Bonnie Brown, was announced as the newest Gold Star Mother.

Brown said the honor comes with some heartbreak.

“Being a Gold Star mom is not an honor,” said Brown. “But it honors us that people remember Johnny almost 10 years later. It helps us know that people still care.”

During the ceremony, a steady, light breeze kept the dozens of American flags that circled the park flying.

Each flag represents a veteran, many stand as tribute to a soldier that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Steve Green, Sergeant-At-Arms of American Legion Post 70, said every veteran has served with every fallen member of service.

“Everyone of these guys was someone’s best friend,” Green said. “As a Post, and as individuals, we do the program here and the one on Veterans Day. This one carries more reverence for us. Even if you do not agree with the current direction of this government, you would not be able to do what you do or me able to do what I do if not for the men who died defending this nation.”

Four names were added to the wall of veterans at Bicentennial Park, and Bill Myrick, a Vietnam veteran and a longtime Veterans Affairs Service Officer, spoke to the large crowd gathered.

The wall lists the names off all the Pike County servicemen who have laid down their life in the military.

Green and Brown agree that all of the fallen soldiers wouldn’t bat an eye to do it again.

“Every one of these guys would do it all over again,” Brown said. “Every time there is a new conflict that sparks up somewhere, every one of these guys thinks ‘If if was 20 years younger, I could do it.’ They would go in a heartbeat if they were asked.

Brown agrees.

“Johnny was so proud to be the 101st Airborne, and we were proud of him,” said Brown. “We are still proud of him, and every one of these amazing people that willingly do what they do.”