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Beaufort County’s war dead honored for their sacrifices

A bell tolled 25 times Memorial Day, once for each of Beaufort County’s war dead since World War I, whose names were called out during a roll-call ceremony.

Under light rain, Gold Star families — who lost family members in the nation’s wars — were honored by the presentation of yellow roses. Veterans made a battlefield cross to honor their brothers and sisters in arms who did not return home because they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Those events and more were part of the Memorial Day service conducted at Veterans Memorial Park in Washington. Beaufort Chapter 48 of the Disabled American Veterans organized the service.

“Like most speakers, I look for an icebreaker to set the tone of the speech. An icebreaker usually is in the form of a joke. As I contemplated what would be appropriate for this occasion, I found myself at a loss. As I thought more about it, there are no jokes when you think of those who cannot utter the simple words of ‘here’ or ‘present’ during roll call. They will never be able to answer roll call again,” said featured speaker Cleveland Bryant Jr. from Cary, a former state DAV commander and a past DAV national executive committee member. “We can and should talk about heroism and sacrifice. It is important, and imperative, to honor … their legacy.”

Gil Alligood, a veteran who was a pilot in the Air Force, was among the veterans of each branch of the military and Merchant Marine veterans who attended the service, talked about what Memorial Day means to him. “To me, it means those that I flew with that didn’t make it back, because I remember them every day. I remember what they did to protect our freedom and let you and I gather here in freedom as we want to do,” Alligood said.

Rudyard Kipling’s “Recessional,” a poem was read during the service. The poem, at the end of several stanzas, repeats the words: “Lest we forget — lest we forget!”

One stanza reads:

Far-called our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget — lest we forget!

The battlefield-cross ceremony is a symbolic replacement of a cross, or marker appropriate to an individual service member’s religion, on the battlefield or at the base camp for a service member who has been killed.

The Gold Star first appeared during World War I after being placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member was killed in combat. The Gold Star signified the family’s pride in the loved one’s sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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