A crowd of about 200 gathered Monday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Park to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
“As Americans, it is our solemn obligation to remember their sacrifice,” said Vietnam veteran Wayne Watkins, who led the local Memorial Day service.
“On Friday of last week the death toll in Afghanistan had reached 1,000 — mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were defending our great nation.”
Keynote speaker retired U.S. Army Col. Bill Cain encouraged those in attendance to consider every day Memorial Day and to stand together to honor the nation’s fallen heros.
“It’s Memorial Day no matter the day on the calendar when we pause and give thanks to those who died, that we may yet live,” Cain said.
“What we should remember is that this day represents the occasion to honor those that paid the ultimate price for freedom.”
Cain also urged veterans who made it home from battle to be strong for the men and women who did not, as he recalled a World War II veteran who believed “it should have been him.”
“I wonder how many there are like him,” Cain said. “I remind them not to be ashamed that you still lived, but rather give thanks to those that stood for each, strong in their courage and willing to give everything in a time it was needed the most.”
The service included a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a dedication ceremony of the memorial’s new Walk of Honor and Serenity Garden.
Flags representing the nation’s five military branches also now fly over the memorial, which Watkins calls “a place for reflection, a place for peace, a place to remember those who have given us our freedom forever remembered.”
“And when [the flags] become withered, they will be replaced by the veterans of Dawson County at services like this one,” he said.