• 73°

Military blood pays the price for today’s freedom

By BETTY F. JONES

Correspondent

CONWAY – The town of Conway celebrated Memorial Day here Monday during a 10 a.m. ceremony. Seventy-seven individuals assembled to honor fallen or missing in action soldiers who lost their lives along with their surviving loved ones.

James Hutchinson, Commander of American Legion Post 102 in Ahoskie, served as the keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day program held in Conway. Photo by Danny Bowman Jr.

Conway Mayor Tommy Barrett (U.S. Air Force 1966 – 1970) welcomed everyone and introduced Commissioner Lokie Majette (U.S. Army 1966 – 1997). Majette shared a prayer of thanks. He continued by asking God’s blessing on the veterans’ who gave their lives in service so we can have freedom.

Pam Brett led the crowd in the singing of the National Anthem. Everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Barrett then introduced the speaker, American Legion Post 102 Commander James Hutchinson (U.S. Marines 1961 – 1966).

Barrett stated that after high school Hutchinson joined the Marine Corp.  He received an Honorable Discharge in 1966 as Sergeant E-5. He graduated from Elizabeth City’s Mid – Atlantic Christian University.

Moving to Ahoskie in 1974 he taught heating and air conditioning at the community college for 23 years.

Hutchinson currently volunteers as the construction supervisor with the Hertford County Habitat for Humanity.  He also is the Pastor of Hamilton’s Church of Christ. He and his wife Joyce reside in Murfreesboro.  Mrs. Hutchinson is the head of Murfreesboro’s Habitat for Humanity store.

“Today we remember lost lives on the battlefield. Over 1.1 million lives were lost in defense of our freedoms,” Hutchinson said. “We honor these soldiers whose blood have paid the way for freedom of religion, the press, speech, to vote, freedom to assemble and the right to a fair trial.  Those soldiers pledged all to the flag, served under the flag, died for the flag, and covered by the flag to honor these fallen soldiers.”

Hutchinson then talked about lives lost in the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I and II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Iraq War, and to present. The Civil War was the costliest with 498,000 lives lost. Most everyone knows the 58,000 lives lost in Vietnam. In the current battles against terrorism, the casualties are 10,000 and counting.

These wars and conflicts are proof of the fragility of freedom and democracy and absolute necessity to protect these ideals.

“Soldiers really didn’t want to kill each other, but each side has pride of country,” Hutchinson noted.

As an example, he told about American and German forces entrenched facing each other with No Man’s Land between them.  Somehow a German soldier got shot and entangled in barbed wire.

An American soldier heard the German soldier’s incessant cries of anguish. Somehow the fighting stopped. This American soldier got to the German and freed him from his snare and carried him to the opposing side. He put his charge in waiting arms. A German decorated with Germany’s highest honor, the Iron Cross, was so impressed with the American soldier’s bravery and empathy he removed it from around his neck and presented it to his enemy. The American was allowed to get safely to the American trenches.

He then talked about Old Glory. He pointed out the various colors, stars, and stripes and their symbolism.

In conclusion, he reminded everyone to set their clocks for 1500 hours or 3 p.m. as his wife insisted. This allows everyone everywhere to give a unified salute for our fallen and lost soldiers.

Mailon J. Daye, Jr. (U.S. Marines 1971 – 1973) and Conway Police Chief Billy Duke (U.S. Army 1981 – 1984) performed the ceremonial laying of the wreath. Both held salutes as Taps was played.

Nancy W. Jenkins (Town Administrator) delivered the Benediction and then gave her sincere thanks to all who attended.