Anson County citizens gathered to honor fallen veterans during a service at the courthouse on Monday.
Vietnam veteran Alfonzo Dean gave the invocation while fellow Vietnam veteran Nathaniel Davis said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Theodore P. Ward, an Anson County Veteran Service officer, was the emcee. He quoted John 15:13. “'Greater love has no one than this, than that he would lay down his life for a friend.' We're here to honor those who laid down their life. We're also here to honor those who are in active service right now.”
James Bennett, a Vietnam veteran and the commander of VFW Post 10403, gave the welcome address. “This is a joyful day for us to be out to honor the veterans of all the wars,” he said.
Ward read a letter from Senator Gene McLaurin, who sent his regrets that he was unable to attend the service, before HOLLA! afternoon school participants gave the occasion. A student explained that the flag is flown at half staff until noon to remember those who gave their lives in service, and then raised to full staff for the remainder of the day for the living.
Connie Ashby sang “America the Beautiful” before Vietnam veteran and Anson County Veteran Council president Ed Parker introduced the speaker, Mark Ashby.
Mark Ashby, an Iraq veteran and retired Army veteran, reminded the crowd that freedom has a cost. “It's a humbling thing to realize as we are here to honor those who have fought and died for the freedoms we have,” he said. “From the beginning of time, people have fought for freedom. In biblical times they fought, and at the founding of this country they fought, and died. Many of us know people who left for war and did not walk back, but were carried in a flag-draped coffin.”
Ashby warned that many people take freedom for granted. “Freedom is not free,” he said. “People look at freedom today and take it for granted. People died for that freedom, and Jesus Christ died for us for our spiritual freedom. In World War Two, people ran to enlistment offices and lied about their age to fight against the tyranny they were facing. That's incredible.”
In addition to remembering those who died in service, Ashby also recognized the living. “Some of you went through the pain and agony when you were spit on as you returned to this country,” he said.
Ward also recognized surviving veterans, asking all veterans in the audience to stand. County commissioner chair Anna Baucom spoke briefly on some of the struggles veterans face when they return home from service. “It's immoral for any United States veteran to be homeless, not to be provided adequate and expedient medical care— whatever they need— and education,” she said. “I don't know anyone who served who didn't leave a piece of themselves there.”
HOLLA! afternoon school participants read the names of local veterans who died serving their country before a live wreath was laid in front of the Anson County veterans memorial.