US Navy Commander stands in awe of Murfreesboro veterans

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MURFREESBORO – From the beaches of Normandy to shores of the Persian Gulf, and in between, America’s real heroes were in attendance here Monday morning.

However, they did not assemble inside the Murfreesboro Municipal Building in order to be signaled out for their duty to country. Rather, like the remainder of the standing-room only crowd gathered on Memorial Day 2016, they came to remember those that didn’t make it home alive in their fight on foreign soil to keep America free.

And it was easy to see from the emotion on the face of the guest speaker, U.S. Navy Commander Justin T. Fauntleroy, that he was in complete awe of the company he kept for 90 minutes on an overcast, damp morning.

Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe holds the town’s ceremonial flag while retired U.S. Navy Captain David Farnham (background) conducts a portion of Monday morning’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Municipal Building. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe holds the town’s ceremonial flag while retired U.S. Navy Captain David Farnham (background) conducts a portion of Monday morning’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Municipal Building. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“Wow; I’ve overwhelmed by those here today that have served our nation in times of war,” said Fauntleroy, now the Commanding Officer of VAW-124 Bear Aces in Norfolk where he began his career in 2000. “Gentlemen, I stand in awe of your bravery and your accomplishments; thank you for your service, your patriotism, and your love of our nation.”

As the name of the day dictated, Fauntleroy said he was honored to speak on behalf of the US Navy in memory of the nation’s fallen heroes.

“We come to honor the talented men and women who died while in service to this great nation,” he said. “They served with honor and selflessness.”

He said that honor and selflessness continues as brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces are now deployed around the world protecting America’s freedom….just as the Murfreesboro veterans in attendance on Monday did decades ago during the battles of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq and today in Afghanistan where the war against global terrorism continues.

“These United States Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are there right now; they’ll be there when you go to bed tonight; they’ll be on their posts when you wake up in the morning; they’ll be there every Saturday, every Sunday, and every holiday this year,” Fauntleroy stressed. “They are there defending America at all times.”

Since the Civil War, more than 1.1 million veterans have served with honor and valor. He recalled the lives of some chosen individuals, to include Navy SEALS and Army medics killed in the line of duty during wars around the world.

“Their stories need to be told; their memories need to be kept alive,” Fauntleroy said. “Their lives, their sacrifices need to always be remembered. Many of those individuals sacrificed their lives, knowing they would die, and did so only after saving the lives of their comrades, making sure they got to safety.

“And those sacrifices were made in support of our nation’s global mission, one that protects America’s most vital interests through security and trust,” he continued. “America’s Armed Forces are built and equipped to deter war, but stand ready to fight and win those wars whenever needed in defense of freedom.”

Fauntleroy said the heroes lost in those wars represent the best in each and every American.

“Members of our nation’s military come from every walk of life,” he noted. “They are the essence and the heartbeat of our country. Today, we honor these men and women and we do so with reverence and with a grateful heart. Without their commitment, our country would not be what it is today.

“Their desire to serve means they respect someone greater than themselves,” Fauntleroy added. “We honor them and their families, who celebrate their legacy and grieve their absence.

“There is no greater honor than to serve your nation. When you lay your eyes on our nation’s flag, be proud of what it represents, our freedom. Never forget the irreplaceable lives that were sacrificed for defending that flag and our way of life. As you look at the red, white and blue of our flag, be reminded of the valor, vigilance and perseverance found in the heart of every United States serviceman and woman. Do not forget those who died under that flag,” he closed.

Joe Dickerson, a four-time recipient of the Purple Heart for his bravery during D-Day and other battles of World War II, provided opening remarks at the annual Memorial Day event held in Murfreesboro.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Eley Whitehead, followed by the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance led by retired U.S. Navy Captain Lamar Van Brackle.

Brinson Paul, a veteran of the Korean War, told the story of the “Greatest Flag.” Vietnam veteran Darren Piper led the audience in the singing of the National Anthem. Laurie Brook performed “My Country ‘tis of Thee.”

Bynum Brown, who served during World War II and the Korean War, recognized all the military veterans in the audience. Each was given the opportunity to share memories of their time spent while serving in defense of their nation.

Retired Navy Captain David Farnham, who served during Vietnam, introduced Fauntleroy as the guest speaker.

Piper played “Taps” after Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe presented the town’s ceremonial American Flag to Town Councilman Craig Dennis.

Refreshments were served in the lobby of the Municipal Building following the ceremony.

Earlier in the day, a red-white-and-blue wreath was placed at the foot of the Murfreesboro Veterans Memorial that stands in front of the Municipal Building. The wreath was donated by members of the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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