KING — Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day began after the Civil War with a desire to honor the dead by decorating their graves.
On May 24 American Legion Post #290 and the Stokes County Arts Council sponsored a Memorial Day service held in King Central Park. Community members were greeted by members of Boy Scout Troop 409, of King, as they distributed programs for the service. “We come for Veterans Day and Memorial Day every year,” said one scout.
The American Legion Honor Guard posted the colors, and the crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegence, led by Legion Commander Don Holland. Then Reverend Jon White, of Freedom Baptist Church, gave an invocation. “We thank you, lord, for every man and woman that has fought for our freedom and died doing so.”
The West Stokes High School Chorus sang the National Anthem as the flags of the country, state, and branches of military danced in the wind behind them.
Mayor Jack Warren stepped forward to welcome the community. As many families huddled together in what shade they could find, Warren reminded the audience that, “a lot of them died in that hot sun, so it shouldn’t make any difference if we sit in the hot sun or the shade.” He also took time to remember Bobby McGee, a pivotal member of the committee that erected the Veterans Memorial, who passed away recently.
“Major Dave” Goteze, retired U.S. Army Major, shared some thoughts for the occassion. Recalling that he first became involved with the King community during the recent controversy over the memorial, the Major mentioned that coming to King felt like coming home.
After stating that Memorial Day is not for all those who served, but those who lost their lives in service, Goteze said, “our task is to ensure that they did not die in vain.”
“The future of this nation rests with how much we are all willing to serve someone or something greater than ourselves,” explained Goteze. “There is something each of us can do.”
The ceremonial “Laying of the Wreath” was followed by a rendition of Amazing Grace played on bagpipes by Ken Bloom. Then Don Adams, retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major, led a prayer before a 21 gun volley and the playing of Taps by the American Legion Honor Guard.
Bill Coller, retired Marine, was among the crowd. “I’m proud of everyone that’s ever served,” he said.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.