Military personnel of all American wars were remembered and honored as the 2016 Twilight Memorial Day Service was held at Patrick Memorial Gardens on Monday night.
A bugler gave the call to colors and the Patrick County High School JROTC posted the colors.
Veteran Clyde Thomas gave the welcome to an audience of people who came to observe Memorial Day.
“Welcome to our Memorial Day Service, honoring deceased and living veterans, who served our country, protecting the freedom and the way of life that we enjoy today,” Thomas said. “These veterans answered the call and did not ask for anything special for the sacrifices they made defending our country. On this day, we honor and respect them for their service.”
Thomas thanked the members of American Legion Post 105, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7800, VFW Post 8467, the Patrick County Veterans Memorial Honor Guard and others for making the event possible.
Don Kirkman made opening remarks. “Memorial Day is a most sacred time, as we remember our brothers and sisters in arms who are no longer with us,” Kirkman said. “They are the thousands who fell on the battlefields of Europe, the Pacific, Korea and Vietnam, others, more recently, gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan in the global war on terrorism.”
“Still more, so many more, returned home to live out their lives in the country for which they fought so unselfishly,” Kirkman said. “They have passed on, but on Memorial Day we pause by each of their gravestones to salute their military service too.”
The group was honoring those currently serving, past veterans, and “above all, those who made the supreme sacrifice for liberty here and around the world,” Kirkman said.
Lt. Col. Robert Forest (retired) gave the opening and closing prayers.
Johnny Joyce sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “A Name on a Wall.”
Kirkman explained the significance of the POW/MIA Remembrance Empty Chair.
Those who have served in military service and those who currently serve “are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by bitterness of personal sacrifice,” Kirkman said.
While survivors are enjoying daily pleasures, there are others who endured and “may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and imprisonment,” Kirkman said.
As Roy McAlexander placed the POW/MIA flag on the empty chair, Kirkman said it was a reminder to all “to spare no effort to secure the release of any American prisoners from captivity, the repatriation of the remains of those who died bravely in defense of liberty, and a full accounting of those missing. Let us rededicate ourselves for this vital endeavor.”
Thomas said candles were being lit in honor and memory of those who were given military funerals by the Honor Guard during 2015.
Lt. Col. Doug Dunlap (retired) discussed the origins of Memorial Day and introduced the guest speaker, Lt. Col. W.C. Fowlkes (retired), whose career spanned 36 years of active and reserve service in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.
Fowlkes’ awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Award with two oak leaf clusters, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Armed Forces Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and many others.
Each generation of Fowlkes’ family has served this area in the military from pre-Revolutionary Days through the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Dunlap said.
The ceremony closed with a 21- gun salute by the Honor Guard and the playing of Taps by a bugler.
Luminaries lined the driveway in honor of Patrick veterans, living and deceased.