Honoring Heroes

Veterans, families and friends came together Monday to honor fallen heroes at The American Legion Post 353’s Memorial Day Ceremony.
A moment of silence, the On Flanders Field poem, a Sargent At Arms salute, the laying of the flowers at the memorial, the raising of the flag, a three-rife volley and the bugler playing Taps were just some of the ways Monday’s ceremony honored those who sacrificed their lives for others’ freedom.
This year’s guest speaker was unable to be in attendance of the ceremony, but Post 353 Commander Paul Ray spoke instead.
Before Ray spoke, he warned audience members that he’s not a gifted speaker and his speech probably wouldn’t be politically correct.
“Today, don’t tell me ‘Thank you for your service’—I am alive. Today is the day we say thank you to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Today is the day we honor and respect those who have given their lives in service to our country. I am not one of them, don’t thank me,” Ray began his speech. “… During my military career, I had the privilege of serving with many heroes. I am honored, I am humbled and I am heartbroken that they will never know how proud I am to have served at their side.
“Love? No.  I didn’t love all of them—some of them I didn’t even like, but I did admire them. They had the courage it takes to say, ‘I don’t want to die and I don’t really want to kill you, but if that’s what it takes to protect the land and people I love, let’s do this.’ Our fallen Comrades in Arms didn’t make that sacrifice because they wanted to, but they were willing to accept it as a consequence of protecting what they love.
“… Take a knee and tell God, ‘Thank you’ for all who are willing to serve and especially for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They did that for you.”
Other speakers included Chaplain Karen Douthit delivering the Chaplain’s Prayer and American Legion Post Auxiliary President Addie Sears reading On Flanders Field.
Past Post Commander Dale Halsey placed the wreath of flowers on the memorial.
“The flowers may wither, but the spirit of which they are the symbol will endure until the end of time,” Ray said.
“The veterans of the United States would like to thank you for coming here to express your gratitude to America’s warriors. ‘For God and country we associate ourselves together.’ Thank you and enjoy your freedom.”

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