Local service honors fallen troops

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Staff Writer

Acknowledging he was “preaching to the choir,” Frank Huffman exhorted his audience to “appreciate the blessings of freedom” during a Memorial Day service held Monday morning in Washington.
“Remember those who gave their lives to preserve the gift of freedom,” said Huffman, state chaplain of the N.C. Disabled American Veterans.
Noting that citizens of some other countries aren’t allowed to assemble freely, Huffman urged his listeners to “recognize the virtue of sacrifice.”
He said those present couldn’t repay the debt they owed to those who died in the service of their country, but could honor the fallen by living in a way that pays tribute to their contributions.
“Most left early in life so that we who are still here may enjoy our holiday, the start of our summer,” Huffman said, adding, “Take a moment (to reflect) before you get lost in the beginning of another summer.”
Huffman was introduced by Melba Sayers, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary commander, Unit 48.
The service got under way at 11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on East Third Street.
Dozens of people sat in bleachers or fold-out chairs, and some wore caps, T-shirts or lapel pins signifying their past involvement in the military.
The event was sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 48, and the DAVA, Unit 48.
Jack Ward, senior vice commander of the local DAV, called for the remembrance of troops who were prisoners of war or were reported missing in action.
He said the POW/MIA flag, visible on a pole at the grounds, is the only flag mandated by law to be flown with the U.S. flag at federal buildings and on military bases on certain days, including Memorial Day.
He said the POW/MIA flag was sharing space “with the greatest symbol of freedom this world has ever known.”
The posting of the colors was undertaken by Beaufort County veterans and students enrolled in the JROTC program at Washington High School.
The national anthem and other songs were performed by the vocal group Men ’n a Chord.
The invocation and closing prayer were given by the Rev. Linwood Lewis.
The laying of a ceremonial wreath was carried out by Marion Ore, DAV member, and Patricia Ore, DAVA member.
Donald Sayers, DAV chapter 48 commander, recognized all branches of the service as the themes identified with each branch were played over a set of loudspeakers.
A couple of elderly veterans who had entered the park on the arms of their children or grandchildren rose without aid, snapped to attention and saluted when their branch’s song was played.