Murfreesboro honors soldiers who never made it home

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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MURFREESBORO – Despite the stormy weather, Murfreesboro citizens gathered inside at the town hall on Monday, May 27 for the annual Memorial Day ceremony. The event recognizes fallen soldiers who never made it back home.

“We honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Mayor Hal Thomas in his opening remarks.

He also led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The featured speaker for the event was Stephen Fowler, who shared stories about soldiers he personally knew, some of whom died while serving their country.

“On this Memorial Day, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our brave men and women who have served our great nation with unwavering dedication. Your courage and sacrifice are the bedrock of our freedoms,” Fowler began.

“Please do not forget to pause to remember and honor those who gave their lives to protect our liberties,” he continued. “Their selflessness and heroism and bravery should not be forgotten.”

At Monday’s Memorial Day tribute in Murfreesboro, Stephen Fowler shared stories about brave soldiers who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms Americans enjoy today. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

He urged the crowd to reflect on their legacy and ensure that it continues to endure in the future.

“Memorial Day was just another holiday for me when I was a teenager,” Fowler said.

He recalled graduating in 1968 and seeing many of his friends enlist or get drafted. For one of them, Fowler remembered they all celebrated when he got his “wings” as a pilot. That friend died the following year in combat.

Fowler named many others he’d grown up with who were killed while serving in the military too.

“These guys never got a chance to start a family or build a home or retired from the paper mill like I did. They didn’t have the things that we enjoy today,” he said.

For the veterans who did return home, Fowler noted that they often suffered from PTSD. And sometimes, when left untreated, those veterans turned to drugs and alcohol instead. And some never talked at all about their time in the service.

In the end, Fowler emphasized an appreciation for veterans and their families, and thanked everyone for attending. And he recognized that those who have already passed on are watching over everyone else.

“Remember to tread lightly because they are near. Speak quietly because they can hear. They’re still around us,” he concluded.

With the weather clearing up by the end of the ceremony, members of the Murfreesboro Police Department were able to go outside and fly the flag as they usually do for the Memorial Day event each year. MPD Officer Holly Stephens played Taps while the flag was being raised by Chief David Griffith, Captain James Dilday, and Sergeant Bryan Johnson.

Mayor Thomas, a retired US Air Force veteran, said that there were many people he served with that didn’t come home either, but they served in order to help others. He referenced a part in the book of Isaiah in the Bible, where Isaiah answers the Lord’s call. Some who answered the call are no longer with us, he reminded the crowd.

“We are here for those who have gone,” Thomas said in his closing remarks.

Rev. Berna Stephens, who serves as Murfreesboro’s Mayor Pro Tem, thanked everyone for attending the annual ceremony, and concluded the event with the benediction prayer.