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Jack Simpson: Memorial Day a time for prayer, reflection

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

Well, another Memorial Day has come and gone. For some folks it signaled the summer break; kids got out of school and families packed up and headed for the beach or the mountains. Some went to cook out and camp out and just enjoy togetherness.

For all of us veterans and families who gathered at the American Legion, Memorial Day was a day for prayer, salutes to the flag and speeches about honoring our fellow soldiers who paid the ultimate price to keep us free.

The turnout was great and the hall was filled to capacity as many visitors spilled over into hallways and adjoining rooms. Pete Mecca, our resident writer of veteran’s affairs and life stories, spoke to us with inspiring words about the history of this special day.

We had our usual visit from elected officials and would-be candidates, and it was good to see them present and to shake their hands and hear some of their friendly conversations.

We shook a lot of hands besides those of politicians. This day brought many of us together again after too long an absence. It was good to see smiling faces of older soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors, many of whom shared similar battlefield experiences, even if in different fields of combat. We were glad to still be alive and we welcomed an opportunity to honor the sacrifice made by our comrades who could not be with us on this day.

Burgers, hot dogs, slaw and potato salad, cake and iced tea, plus many other goodies were shared by attendees, compliments of the American Legion. You cannot go wrong with a menu like this in a patriotic setting filled with old soldiers and their families!

Yes, and on a federal holiday observed annually on May’s last Monday. No question about it, we came to remember the men and women who died in the service of our great nation. Honor these fallen heroes we did, regardless of which war they served in.

We saluted as the American flag was raised over the Legion Post and as taps was played so well by a veteran accomplished enough to have played a duet with Harry James.

While we attended our special ceremony, we knew others around the country were marching in parades, putting flowers on graves, visiting cemeteries with family and friends, and attending ceremonies just like the one held in Rockdale County.

The feeling of the day was expressed by poet Moina Michael:

“We cherish too, the Poppy Red

That grows on fields valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.”

Thanks to all who contributed to or attended the Memorial Day ceremonies at the American Legion Post. We shared a time of remembrance and respect. We cherish the freedom which we enjoy at the sacrifices made by our fallen comrades.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.