Greenville honors fallen, POW, and MIA at Memorial Day festivities


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — Citizens paid homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their freedoms, Monday, as Greenville held its annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony.

“This is the day we pay homage to all those who did not come home….”

With the “Stars and Stripes” held high, the American Legion Color Guard led the parade of Greenville High School band members, GHS Naval JROTC, Disabled American Veterans, and others from the Martha G. Benkert Memorial Bridge to the Greenville Union Cemetery.

There, the City of Greenville Mayor Steve Willman opened the ceremony saying he is honored to be there on such an important occasion, as we honor the service members and the sacrifices they have made in honor of their duty and country.

“We remember the sacrifices of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the battlefields around the world,” Pastor Alan Knoke from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church said during the invocation. “Help us as we gather together to remember.”

Special Guest, District Director Ben Thaeler with the Office of Congressmen Warren Davidson spoke on how it is important to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice not just today, but everyday, as we get to live everyday – free because of those who have given all.

“For many, Memorial Day is really just the start of summer. It is an opportunity for BBQs and parades. That’s unfortunate because their ignorance was paid for by the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Thaeler said.

These thousands include around 600,000 who died in the Civil War. Thaeler said after the Civil War, Declaration Day started to be observed, and the first gathering was May 30, 1868.

“At that event, former Union General James Garfield, Ohio Congressmen and the future president, made a speech to commemorate the over 20,000 union and confederate dead at Arlington,” Thaeler said.

In 1971, Memorial Day was recognized as a National Holiday to be recognized as the last Monday in May. Thaeler closed his speech with a quote from former President Garfield.

“We do not know one promise that these men made, what pledge they gave, one word they spoke, but we do know that they summed up and perfected one act of the highest virtue of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death and thus resolved all doubts and immortalized their patriotism and virtue,” Thaeler said.

Dr. Douglas D. Scott, USN Retired was featured as the guest speaker. He opened by reiterating why we were gathered in the cemetery that day.

“As of Sept. 2021, the United States has lost over one million men and women. Each one of these individuals had hopes, dreams, and loved ones they left behind,” Dr. Scott said.

He said they represented a diverse background of races, religions, and backgrounds that were united by the commitment to protect our nation.

“These sacrifices that these local heroes have made may be smaller in scale compared to bigger areas, but it is not less of an impact,” Dr. Scott said.

He stressed the importance to also remember and honor those who are prisoners of war (POWs) and missing in action (MIA).

“These brave individuals who have been enduring unimaginable hardships and sacrifices deserve our unwavering support as well,” Dr. Scott said.

He said the POW and MIA issue is a constant reminder of the impact war has on individual families and communities.

“In their memory, let us remember the family left behind: parents, spouses, siblings, and children who have worn the heavy burden of loss,” Dr. Scott said. “They too deserve our support and compassion for the sacrifices they have made as well.”

He prayed for our “young people” to embrace their roles as the “custodians of our nation’s legacy.”

“May the patriotism burn brightly in their hearts and guide their actions. May they be inspired by the sacrifices of the fallen – understanding that their service and dedication have paved the way for the freedom we hold dear,” Dr. Scott said.

Dr. Scott closed his speech, and honor was paid with the laying of wreaths by the VFW Post 7262, VFW Post 7262 Auxiliary, DAV Chapter 57, DAV Chapter 57 Auxiliary, American Legion Post 140, and Fort GreeneVille Chapter DAR. A 21 Guyn Salute and taps ecode through the cemetery, as citizens stood in silence, honoring those who have passed, became POW, and those who are MIA.

“As we continue through this Memorial Day, may we carry in our hearts the memory of those who have given their lives in service to our nation and our community. May we honor the sacrifice by striving for a better and just society,” Dr. Scott said.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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