YADKINVILLE — Flags waved against a brilliant blue sky on Monday as area residents and veterans gathered at the Yadkin County Park to honor those who lost their lives in service to the nation.
“Memorial Day is a very special day to us. It’s when we have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who have given their all so that we may be a free people,” said Veterans Affairs Administrator Chuck Knight as he welcomed attendees to the ceremony.
An invocation was given by Chaplain Buddy Rhodes, who also sang the national anthem.
Local veterans took turns placing flags that represented the different branches of service to the tune of their respective songs played on the mandolin by Mel Speas. Rick Matthews, retired Army and Vietnam war veteran, presented the Army flag. Retired Air Force and Gulf War veteran Pete Knight placed the Air Force flag. Larry Adams, also a Vietnam veteran, presented the Navy flag. Marine veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom Randy Ellington presented the Marine flag, and veteran Jim Gant placed the Coast Guard flag.
World War II veteran Joe Hobson lead the pledge of allegiance.
The Yadkin VFW Post 1034 was recognized for receiving the national community service award for a fifth time. From May of last until April of this year, the group had completed 9,367 hours of community service and donated more than $16,000.
David Shore, commander of American Legion Post 336, addressed ceremony attendees and said he appreciated all the guests, visitors and veterans who were present. Shore said there were three times as many attendees than another Memorial Day service he spoke at over the weekend in King.
“I’m proud of Yadkin County and really glad that we had this number to show up. It shows what kind of support we have in this county for our veterans,” Shore said.
Shore called the fallen veterans “heroes” and the “true American idols.”
“Today we are honoring those people who gave their lives in service to our great nation,” he said.
Shore also recalled the words from the often unsung third verse of “America the Beautiful,” “O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!”
“There’s a power message in that verse,” Shore said. “‘Who more than self their country loved,’ those are some powerful words that describes these people and all veterans alike who have served this great nation of ours.”
The names of all Yadkin County veterans who died in combat were read and members of the Ladies Auxiliary placed a wreath in their honor. At the close of the ceremony, members of the Yadkin VFW Honor Guard performed a 21-gun salute and all veterans in attendance stood with hands over hearts as “Taps” was played.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.