ROCKINGHAM — Since 1868, Memorial Day has been a time to honor those who died in battle. Richmond County now has a monument to their sacrifice that will stand 365 days a year.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4203 leaders unveiled the Fallen Soldier Battlefield Cross statue in a Saturday dedication ceremony that doubled as a Memorial Day observance.
Gene Canipe, a World War II veteran, John Patrick, a Vietnam War veteran, and Tim Grooms, an Iraq war veteran, unveiled the statue. It features a pair of bronze boots beneath a rifle and soldier’s helmet.
Richmond County veterans’ groups laid wreaths around the memorial statue. The American Legion, VFW, the groups’ ladies’ auxiliaries and Daughters of the American Revolution, among many others, placed wreaths from their respective groups.
On hand among the hundreds of veterans and Richmond County residents was William Thien, commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Ernest Allis, North Carolina VFW commander.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson was guest speaker for the patriotic service.
“This isn’t just a long weekend,” said Hudson. “It’s a day set aside to remember the men and women that lost their lives giving the greatest sacrifice.”
Several World War II veterans were in attendance Saturday and VFW Post 4203 Commander Eddie Dean called on all those still with us who fought in that war to stand as the crowd showed its gratitude with roaring applause and a standing ovation.
The service concluded with the AMVETS performing a 21-gun salute and Taps played on trumpet along with the folding of the American flag.
Said Hudson, “Let us not just remember today one day a year, but every day remember these veterans.”
Hudson then shared a portion of Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Memorial Day speech, saying, “All these men were different, but they shared something in common. They love America.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-997-3111, ext. 18.