Richmond County Daily Journal
Command Sergeant Major Terry Wheeler described Memorial Day as a day of celebration in remembrance of soldiers who have given their lives.
“Today is a celebration for fallen comrades,” he said Saturday. “A single day during which we honor the spirit of all those who died in service to our nation, but whom we continue to remember and honor in our hearts.”
Soldiers, veterans, and citizens gathered Saturday morning at the Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham to celebrate and remember the men and women of the armed forces who have given their lives defending the United States.
“It means a lot to me to see all of these people come out and remember the soldiers so that we can be free,” said Army National Guard Sgt. William Lunceford.
Lunceford recently returned from a tour serving in Iraq.
Travis Billingsley of the Rockingham City Council read a proclamation declaring it a day to remember the veterans. Ed O’Neal of the Rockingham AMVETS awarded citizens of Richmond County for outstanding support of the veterans and military, including Misty Gibson, Ashlyn Gibson, Bobbie Sue Ormsby, and Garrett McQueen.
The theme of the ceremony was “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans.” Wheeler shared facts that citizens should remember from the Vietnam War such as more than 58,000 soldiers were killed and 111,000 died as a result of war-related problems after returning.
“Thanking a veteran is such a small thing compared to what they have given us,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler shared a story of a young soldier that he had the opportunity to watch become a leader.
“He was not one of my soldiers, nor was he in my platoon. However, he always caught my attention by the way he stood out among his peers while conducting training and when taking care of his soldiers,” said Wheeler.
SFC Jared C. Monti was in Afghanistan in 2006 as a team leader of a 16-man patrol. The group of men was attacked by a force of more than 50 opposing fighters. Monti called for help and took his weapon driving the opposing force back time and time again, explained Wheeler. In the process an American soldier was wounded and exposed to the approaching enemy.
“SFC Monti did something no amount of training can instill,” said Wheeler. “SFC Monti made it within a few yards of his wounded soldier.”
Wheeler used this illustration as just one of the soldiers who lost their lives in a fight for the country. He asked that all in attendance remember all veterans and members of the armed forces.
After Wheeler’s speech local veteran’s organizations and civic groups place wreaths in honor of America’s military. The names of the Vietnam veterans who lost their lives from Richmond County was read aloud.
“It was inspiring to hear the Sergeant talk,” said Martin Nielsen, commander of the Rockingham AMVETS who hosted Saturday morning’s ceremony.
“The only place I would rather be than here is in Afghanistan with my soldiers,” said Wheeler after the ceremony.