American Legion Post 102 shows respect for fallen soldiers

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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AHOSKIE – Perhaps it was ironic that a thunderstorm passed over Ahoskie late Monday morning.

The thunder served as the roar of rifles and cannons in combat while the rain represented the tears of family members/service members who lost loved ones/comrades while defending our freedom.

The storm was perhaps the reason that attendance was sparse at Ahoskie American Legion Post 102’s annual Memorial Day ceremony held Monday morning. But for those in attendance, they paid respect for those who laid down their lives while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

“I’m an Army veteran and, like so many others, I’ve lost friends during periods of combat,” said NC House Representative (5th District) Bill Ward who served as the featured speaker at the Memorial Day event.

“Today is a very special day, but also a somber day for me,” Ward continued. “This is a very important holiday as we gather to remember our fallen service members from past and present wars. They made, and are currently making, sacrifices in the name of patriotism, service to others, and duty and honor so that our freedom and way of life remains.”

NC House Representative Bill Ward (right) greets Legion Post 102 member Rev. William Reid at the conclusion of the Memorial Day tribute held in Ahoskie. Ward, a veteran of the U.S. Army, was the featured speaker at the event. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Ward, who had 10 years of active duty and four years in the Army Reserves, reminded the audience of the meaning of honorable service and sacrifice.

“These are the actions and values through which selfless acts were carried out in conflicts which still continue by our brave military men and women serving throughout the world,” he noted. “These brave heroes have stepped up to defend our freedoms with their lives.

“Today we honor our nation’s heroes and remember their achievements, their courage, and their dedication,” Ward added. “We acknowledge and thank them for their sacrifices, the ultimate sacrifice being their life.”

Ward stressed that many of these brave men and women did not ask to leave their homes, but when called to duty they unselfishly went off to distant battlefields.

“They answered the call to protect a nation that had given them so much,” he said. “Today, nothing has changed. Our service members continue to make the ultimate sacrifice. They follow in the footsteps of the heroes who preceded them.

“May we always continue to remember those who have given their all so we may enjoy the freedoms that we all cherish. Let us ensure that our younger generations know and understand everything that it takes to be free,” Ward concluded.

Post 102 Commander Joe Perfetto opened the ceremony by announcing that Legion members and volunteers placed approximately 1,800 American flags at the graves of local military veterans prior to Memorial Day. Those flags were donated by Garrett-Sykes Funeral Service of Ahoskie.

Donald Kirkland, Commander of Post 102’s Sons of the Legion, read a poem – “This is Hallowed Ground: Why We Don’t Walk Between the Colors” by Nolle Deas. The first two verses of the poem reads:

“Between these flags that proudly fly,

Let no man dare to stand.

For here our fallen comrades lie,

A symbol yes, but mark it well.

Here let us ever humbly pause

In memory of the lads who fell

In fighting for our sacred cause.

“On sea or land these buddies died.

Some lie beneath a foreign soil

In graves caressed by winds and tide.

In spots unknown to all but God,

And so this place is hallowed ground

And shall be forever blessed.

And though it were a grassy mound

Beneath which gallant heroes rest.”

The Hertford County High School Junior ROTC Color Guard posted and retrieved the “colors” as part of Monday’s ceremony.

Jerrell Sessoms performed the National Anthem.

Post 102 Assistant Chaplain Roosevelt Robbinson provided the invocation and benediction.

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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