Braxton held its Memorial Day Observation in Mable Everett Park on Monday morning. Breakfast was provided for the service men and women and others in attendance.
The program began at 9:30 a.m., and Evelyn Copeland was the master of ceremonies. Copeland welcomed everyone, and Deacon Richard Rankin opened the ceremony with a prayer.
Ruby Ainsworth led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Abby Gipson sang the National Anthem.
Two musical numbers followed, “God Bless America” led by Karen Mosely and a special tribute song to the fallen soldiers performed by Tim Carlisle.
The veterans were recognized by Virginia Montgomery. Each veteran was given a commemorative hat, pen, and fan in thanks for their service. Each veteran was asked to stand and state their name, branch of service, and years served. The crowd featured several men and women with a broad range of service that represented and protected the country.
Following the recognition, Andy Gipson and David McMillan were the guest speakers.
Gipson’s speech was one of gratitude. He opened by giving thanks to those who have defended the freedoms of America. He shared a scripture, John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Gipson thanked the families of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and commended their strength.
Gipson said, “Memorial Day is for remembering what they died for which is our freedom. Everyone takes freedom for granted, but it is fought for everyday by these brave men and women. Freedom is one generation away from extinction all the time.”
He stated that one of his proudest accomplishments as a politician was naming the World War II Memorial Highway in Simpson County. He encouraged everyone to always remember the freedom behind the flag. The freedoms of religion, speech, and countless other that brave men and women have sacrificed for.
David McMillan is a highly decorated veteran and he spoke of sacrifice and remembrance. He explained that every veteran’s journey begins with the oath to protect the United States and the constitution. He named the opening battles of many of the Unites States conflicts beginning with the Revolutionary War.
McMillan gave the Webster’s Dictionary definition of memorial which means to serve in remembrance. He expressed how important this message was for young people, and how Memorial Day celebrations are for the fallen. He stated there are 26 cemeteries and 32 memorial markers around the world in honor of those who died in service.
McMillan said, “We’ve spread all over the world leaving blood and guts everywhere making our home safe; making our home a home. That’s why today is the most expensive holiday on the calendar. Every hotdog, every spin around the lake, and every drink with friends is a debt paid for by another.”
He said, “Today is not about everyone who served that comes in the fall. This is for the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice and for that we thank you.”
A Missing Man Table was setup in the park for the missing in action, prisoners of war, and others who were unable to come home. There is symbolism to every item on the Missing Man Table. The table is round, to show everlasting concern for our missing men. The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. The single red rose; displayed in a vase, reminds us of the lives of these Americans and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith while seeking answers. The red ribbon symbolizes continued determination to account for the missing. A slice of lemon reminds of their bitter fate; captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of the missing and their families who long for answers after decades of uncertainty. The lighted candle reflects hope for their return, alive or dead. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted, symbolizing their inability to share a toast. Finally the chair is empty, the seat that remains unclaimed at the table.
Justin Moody with the Patriot Guard gave a brief update on the organizations activities. A bell was tolled in honor of the fallen, followed by Taps which was played by Drew Leblanc. Rankin closed the ceremony with prayer.
Dan Pardue once said, “It took an estimated 25,000 lives to win our independence from England but it has taken millions to preserve it.”
This statement still remains true today and the sacrifices of these brave men and women will never be forgotten.