On Sunday, May 24, 2015, I attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Pointe Memorial Park in Spartanburg, SC. It was hosted by the American Legion Post 28.
All were there to honor those men and women from Spartanburg County who had given their lives in the service of their country. It was a solemn occasion, marked by speeches and the reading of the names of those from my home town who lost their lives fighting for my freedom. One thing I noted was that the majority served in the army; that is the branch of service that my dad and both his brothers served in.
Among many veterans and spectators were one Gold Star Family that had lost a son and nine Blue Star Mothers who now have children in harm’s way.
The term Gold Star family is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag. These flags/banners were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces of the United States, during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.
There was a POW/MIA Recognition that included presenting the POW/MIA flat. This flag, with its black field and white letters, was raised to the tune of “Amazing Grace” played by bagpipes. A small table was set for a solitary soldier that was not with us. John J. Barron spoke of the five bodies this year that had been accounted for; one was from WW II.
The keynote speaker was Lt. Colonel Arthur T. Ballard, USAF Ret. Here is a link to his speech and some photos from the event.
May 25, 1882
“Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I set an alarm today, so that we wouldn’t forget to stop and remember those who have given their lives for us and our country. Rather than only at 3:00 on Memorial Day, I believe we need to be grateful every day.