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Earlys community remembers veterans

AHOSKIE – "They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old." n Laurence Binyon.

On a bright, breezy Sunday morning, that verse from Binyon's "For the Fallen" proved as a reminder of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of total strangers.

Inside a full house at Earlys Baptist Church, parishioners and guests alike were treated to a lesson of love and compassion from those who gave their lives in the name of freedom as well as those who currently continue to strive for bringing Democracy to the world.

Ironically, this day to remember those, living and dead, who proudly served America's mighty military branches fell on the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We had planned this event to occur earlier, but we couldn't get everything in place," said Earlys church member Carroll Young. "It's a coincidence that everything came together today on the anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on America."

Sunday's service not only weaved a theme of military service and the sacrifices made by those coming to the rescue during 9-11-01, but thoughts and prayers to the residents of the Gulf Coast states in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Earlys Baptist minister, the Rev. Ronald W. McSwain, reported a special offering in excess of $900 was collected during Sunday School, money that will be forwarded to the ongoing relief efforts in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

"We bless the memories of those who loved freedom so much that they sacrificed their lives," Rev. McSwain said.

One-by-one, the names of Earlys Baptist church members were called in honor of their service to the United States. All totaled, 42 men and one woman were recognized. Some had already passed from this world, including Steven Dale Perry, the church's only member who was killed while serving active duty (October of 1968 in Vietnam).

"We pay our respects to those who served, who are currently serving and to those who have died in service to this great nation," McSwain said. "They have earned our undying admiration and respect. Earlys Baptist Church remembers and honors these proud patrons for their service to the cause of freedom."

Each veteran in attendance on Sunday was given an American flag lapel pin, courtesy of Tuddy Lassiter's Sunday School class. Family members of those not in attendance or representing those who have died were awarded the pins.

Rev. McSwain also focused on the events that shook the world four years ago.

"There were those on Sept. 11, 2001 who reached out to help total strangers," he said. "In doing so, some paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for the common good of all."

The church membership also took part in three dedications ceremonies on Sunday n one to rededicate an existing 50-plus-year-old plaque honoring those in the Earlys community for their military service, one to dedicate a new plaque containing additional names of military veterans and one to bestow honor and glory to a new American flag, pole and marker at the church.

Eleanor Hollowell of Woodmen of the World arranged for the church's new flag. Church member Robert Earl Brinkley was responsible for the pole while Young took care of the placement of the new marker at the foot of the flag pole.

"This is a very meaningful celebration," Hollowell said. "It is with great pride that I present you with this flag on behalf of Woodmen of the World. Whenever you pass by this flag or any other American flag, please stop and remember those who have so proudly served this country."

United States Air Force Airman First Class Brent Doughtie carried the flag and led the processional from within the church to the flag pole. There it was raised followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of "Taps" by Doug Brinkley.