Memorial Day celebrated in Washington

Published 5:40 pm Monday, May 29, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter 48 of Beaufort County and DAV Auxiliary and Juniors Unit 48 held their annual Memorial Day Celebration on Monday, May 29 at Veterans Park (404 E. Third Street) in Washington. 

“Old Glory” was the theme of the ceremony that was attended by many. Guest speakers at the ceremony were COL(R) Kathleen Simpson, of Washington and Dr. Jerry Teboe, pastor of Pactolus Baptist Church. 

“I’m proud of my service,” Simpson said. “It changed my life, and I am grateful for all of the men and women who preceded me that enabled me to serve. On this particular day, the particular day set apart to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, I am profoundly grateful.”  

After retiring as a Colonel from the U.S. Army, Simpson taught at East Carolina University’s School of Nursing as a Clinical Assistant Professor and served as a vice president at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital. She currently serves as chair of Beaufort County Community College’s Board of Trustees. 

Simpson went on to explain that she “cringes” a little when someone thanks her for her service or wishes her a happy Memorial Day, because the day is meant to be somber. 

“We are honoring those that died whether on the battlefield, in a medical clearing station, in a field hospital, in flight or in a rear echelon treatment facility. They died doing what they swore an oath to do – protect the country and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Simpson said. 

Shifting her speech to focus on the American flag, Simpson shared that on September 11, 2001 she was working at an outlying building near the Pentagon. Some colleagues were either killed or injured when the Pentagon was attacked. When firefighters and soldiers hung an American flag on a wall within the Pentagon, she said it was like a “shot in the arm of hope, pride, renewal and reassurance that things were going to get better.” 

Simpson says she “treasures” stars and stripes and what they represent and will live her life in a way that honors “those who didn’t have the chance to do so.”

One such serviceman who did not return home from war was Private Coy Lee Padgett, of Florida, who is the late uncle of Teboe. Padgett served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. At the age of 22, Lee was killed in action at the Battle of Iwo Jima in Japan. He served in the Asiatic-Pacific area from Nov. 13, 1943 until his death on March 7, 1945. He was awarded posthumously the Purple Heart, the Navy Unit commendation with ribbon bar, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. 

Teboe, a Vietnam War veteran, read aloud letters written by Padgett when he served. He reminisced about being home surrounded by friends and family and enjoying his mother’s dinners. 

“When I come home, I want to spend the first month or two just eating the food you cook for me,” Teboe read aloud from Padgett’s letter.  

“Being in the Marines is a cheap way to see the world, but the more I see, the more I want to go back to where I came from…I just want Florida,” Teboe read aloud. 

A flag was folded and presented to Teboe later in the ceremony in honor of Padget’s service. 

Monday’s ceremony also included honoring Gold Star families with yellow and white roses, patriotic music by Fred Read of Oriental United Methodist Church, a lesson why the flag is folded 13 times, a three volley salute and a performance of “Taps” by Kipp Hodnett. A fly over was conducted by Bill Plaster at noon.