The Moore County American Legion Post 192 hosted its 22nd annual Memorial Day service at the courthouse on Monday, May 26.
Held at the northwest side of the Metro Lynchburg courthouse near the Veterans Memorial, the ceremony lasted approximately 35 minutes and had more than 100 people in attendance.
After a couple of songs played by singer/songwriter and a two-time International Thumb picking Guitar Champion Shane Adkins, Billy H. Thomas, Commander Post 192, welcomed the crowd. Phil Gatto, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, gave the invocation, which was followed by a singing of the National Anthem by Meredith Burton. Burton also sang “God Bless America.”
This year’s speaker was Rick Head, of Fayetteville. Head, a U.S. Army veteran, is CEO of LRHc Consulting Services that he founded in Lincoln County. The company does business in many regions throughout the world. He is also a managing partner for Logistics Partners Group.
Head — who has four children serving in leadership roles in the U.S. Army, government and in industry — spent six years in the U.S. Army serving as a Radar Systems Electronics technician.
“For lots of folks, this is a three-day weekend … then for some like us here, Memorial Day is a special day for remembrance,” said Head.
Head said that the Vietnam War is “a fading memory for a lot of (people),” but other battles, like Afghanistan, where his son has been deployed numerous times, are constant reminders of the sacrifices that soldiers — as well as their families — constantly make.
Head’s son has been in the military nearly 18 years and Head said that as a father he still gets the same feelings of anxiety each time his son leaves home.
“I know what Memorial Day is all about,” he said, adding that for him, it’s a reminder of the oath that each soldier takes when he joins the service. “That oath is why (our) brave heroes do what they do each and every day. We shouldn’t forget those words that each and every one took upon their enlistment.”
Following Head’s brief address, Army veteran Glen Thomas presented the wreath at the county’s Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veteran Billy Glen Bobo raised the American flag. Moore County High School 8th-grader Billy Powell played “Taps” from the steps of the courthouse.
Ken Moore, a Navy veteran, made a short statement and said the closing prayer.
While traditional Memorial Day rites have dwindled in many towns, they remain strong at Arlington National Cemetery. Since the 1950s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division have placed American flags at each of the more than 260,000 graves there.
During the weekend, they patrol around the clock to make sure each flag remains aloft. On the holiday itself, every year about 5,000 people turn out to see the President or Vice President give a speech and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
With the National Holiday Act of 1971, Congress moved Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May. But critics say guaranteeing that the holiday is part of a three-day weekend promotes relaxation instead of stressing the holiday’s true meaning. In 1989, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii introduced a bill to move the holiday back to the fixed date of May 30. He has reintroduced it in every Congress since then — with no success.
—By ROBERT HOLMAN, editor & publisher