As thousands of Carthage residents enjoyed the holiday that officially kicks off summer, about 100 residents gathered at Park Cemetery to honor those served in the military and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The annual Carthage Veterans Alliance Memorial Day ceremony was held Monday at Park Cemetery’s Veterans Memorial. About 130 people, including veterans, families, residents and members of the Heartland Band gathered.
American Legion Post Commander Jerry Chapman, who led the ceremony, said Memorial Day’s meaning has change to him as a result of his service in the military.
“In the past it was always an extra day off, a day to spend with the family and friends,” Chapman said. “But since my time in the service, it has come to mean a lot more than just that. It means that we’ve got people out there who have committed their lives so we can enjoy days like this. It’s very important that people remember that, to think of it as not just a day to have fun with people, but also as a day to remember the ones who have sacrificed and given us the opportunity to be out here and do this very thing.”
The Heartland Band played numerous patriotic tunes and veterans showed how to ceremonially fold a flag while Chapman described the meanings that have been ascribed to each of the folds.
Marine Corps Sgt. Robert Cann gave the keynote address in which he remembered a Marine he served with who was killed in Iraq in 2005.
“I’ve had the great honor of serving beside those who have made that great sacrifice,” Cann said. “One of the men that I will never forget is Staff Sgt. Daniel Clay. I served with Staff Sgt. Clay while stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., serving with Second Battalion, Seventh Marines. We were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in July 2005. Staff Sgt. Clay paid the ultimate price alongside nine other Marines when he was killed on Dec. 1, 2001 by an IED in Fallujah.”
Cann said President George W. Bush quoted from a letter than Clay had prepared in the event of his death in Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address.
“Staff Sgt. Clay was an outstanding example of what a leader could and should be,” Cann said. “I’m a better man and a better Marine today for having served alongside him. Staff Sgt. Clay is just one of thousands who have paid the ultimate price in sacrifice and service to this great country that we live in. So lets make Memorial Day a day of honor. Honor those who have gone before us. Honor those who have paid the ultimate price. Honor those who still serve. Regardless of your political views, honor those who make sacrifices on a regular basis to keep this country free.”
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