‘We will never forget’

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 26, 2008

JACKSON – Freedom comes at a price.

Northampton County held its Memorial Day Service outside of the courthouse at 11 a.m. here Monday.

Jeff Futrell, the Northampton County Veterans Service Officer, said that every year the President places a wreath on tomb of the Unknown Soldier in remembrance of those who gave their lives for their country.

However, he also added that most Americans are shamelessly forgetful of the sacrifice.

Futrell said we must remember the unflinching courage of those men and women.

“Our freedom is not free,” said Futrell.

“Someone had to pay for it.”

Stephen Jackson, Commander of VFW Post 4312 and veteran of the U.S Army, was the guest speaker at the event.

“Today is a day that is really important to me,” he said. “I take it personally.”

Jackson went on to thank everyone for coming out to the event.

“I call it doing the right thing: honoring the men and women who have served our country,” he said.

As a Vietnam veteran, Jackson said he has seen 19- year-olds, 20- year-olds, 30- year- olds; even 50 year olds die in battle.

Jackson mentioned that when he got back from the war, he was going through Oakland, California and war protesters were throwing rocks.

“I thought it was a real shame,” said Jackson.

“We had put out lives on the line; some did not come back.”

According to Jackson, Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day because people went to graves and cleaned them in order to pay tribute to those who have gone on.

“This is not just a three -day holiday,” said Jackson.

“It is an important holiday; we should all pay tribute to those who keep us free.”

By law, Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May

“It is a day that we, as proud Americans, honor those who gave their all,” said Jackson.

“It is a way to keep their names in our hearts and to pass the memories to future generations.”

Jackson mentioned Nathan Hale in his speech.

Hale was a spy for General Washington in the Revolutionary War and was captured and hung by the British.

As he was facing death, Hale said, “I regret I only have one life to give for my country.”

Jackson said Hale was an example of true Patriotism.

At the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, President Lincoln said, “Those dead shall not have died in vain.”

Jackson said that we should recall all of those men and women who gave their lives, and we are extremely grateful.

Jackson then cited several wars and the American military fatalities during the wars.

In WWI, more than 116,000 servicemen died; in WW II, 405,000 died; in Korea, 54,000 died; in Vietnam, 58,000 died and in Iraq around 4,000 servicemen have died.

“These numbers may seem like dry statistics,” said Jackson.

“But these people were husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, even some mothers and sisters, who went to serve and did not come back home.

“We will never forget; we must always remembers those who served,” said Jackson.

“May God bless you, and may God bless America.”

The Color Guard JROTC at Northampton County High School East presented the colors.

Wardie Vincent, Northampton County Sheriff and U.S. Army veteran, and Charles Youse, a retiree of the U.S. Army, participated in the laying of the memorial wreath.