By Karen Hall
"May they always be remembered," said Tommy Spence as he marked the vacant chair for Prisoners of War and those who are Missing in Action.
Memorial Day observances on the square in Lewisburg were all about remembering those who fought, and died, for our freedom in all the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Boy Scouts from Troop 352, Chapel Hill, presented the colors and led the pledge of allegiance, and Mary McDaniel put her whole heart into the national anthem.
Master of ceremonies Larry Hastings of the American Legion praised the two Gold Star Mothers who lost their sons in combat and were present in the crowd.
"These folks know what sacrifice is," he said. "We're so honored to have them in our presence today."
Marshall County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Lee Bussart Bowles spoke about the meaning of poppies in Flanders Field.
During World War I, Canadian physician John McCrae wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields" in a field hospital from which he saw red flowers growing on soldiers graves. Poppy seeds can lie underground for years and bloom if they are unearthed such as when graves were dug in the spring of 1915.
Fresh wreaths were placed at the War Memorial, one for each of the conflicts that claimed lives of Marshall Countians.
"My we always remember the sacrifices that have been made that we might have freedom today," Hastings said.
Lacking a bugler, a recorded version of "Taps" was played, but it was nonetheless moving as heads were bared and bowed, and old comrades remembered.
As is customary, lunch was served at the VFW Post after the ceremony on the square.
In the evening, the American Legion held their usual Memorial Day dinner in the Fellowship Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Retired Marine and former police chief Wayne Coomes was the speaker.
"We honor everyone from Marshall County who gave their all for you, me and this country," he said. "We need to honor the families of their great American heroes. The family pays a great price for their loved ones to serve."
Coombs did not shy away from contemporary politics, and left his audience in no doubt where he stood.
"Today a move is afoot to let the federal government assume various functions in our society that were never intended for it to have," he said. "Each time the federal government takes a function away from the people, you lose some of our freedom. This is not what our servicemen fought and died for."
Coomes also criticized the current administration, stating, "The structure and equipment reductions currently planned will leave the United States militarily weakened and vulnerable to growing ...threats. The investment in 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' our country and its veterans have made is too important to be thrown away."
He concluded by repeating, "Freedom is not free. Our vets, both departed and here, have paid a heavy price for freedom, even unto today."