Due to the threat of rain, the 2016 Memorial Day Service at the Johnston County Courthouse was moved inside Monday. The Johnston County Veterans Council, representing 16 Veterans groups, put on the event in the atrium of the courthouse.
Johnston County Commissioner Ted Godwin, a US Army Veteran, welcomed those who attended. Godwin said Memorial Day was not just about honoring veterans but those who had lost their lives defending our freedom. He said once veterans come home many still continue to serve their country.
Mark Petersen, Commander of the NC District 11 American Legion and Commander of American Legion Post 141 in Selma, a US Marine Corps Veteran, said Memorial Day was a time to remember those who gave all. Only two veterans from World War II were present for the ceremonies. Petersen called the WWII veterans a “vanishing generation.”
Retired Colonel Sherrill Stevens, a WWII Veteran and member of American Legion Post 141, was the guest speaker. Stevens, who is 89, served more than 37 years in the military. He began by saying Memorial Day was more than the first holiday of the summer season but a day for remembering the incredible priceless human sacrifice of war. Stevens said in his lifetime more than a half million Americans had lost their lives defending our country and countless more were injured.
He said more than 1.3 million Americans had died in all military operations protecting the United States and we continue to add to the total.
Stevens said it required courage to enter into military service. He also said it took courageous individuals who fought on the battlefields, waded onto shores of foreign countries, parachuted behind enemy lines, flew into skies filled with enemy planes, or walked into the jungles of Vietnam. He said courageous soldiers today still patrol across the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.
“It is raw courage to the point of heroism,” Colonel Stevens said. “Your life is on the line when you wear the uniform.”
“The price for freedom paid for those who fought and died, these are the ones we remember today,” Stevens said. “Enjoy this holiday, but never forget our unpayable debt, they died so that we may live free.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a wreath laying ceremony was held following by a firing salute. The event concluded with the playing of the song You’re a Grand Old Flag. JoCoReport.com photos