NEWBERRY — Veterans, friends, family members and community members filled Memorial Square Sunday afternoon to honor the servicemen and servicewomen who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country.
The Newberry High School Junior ROTC presented the colors. Specialist Initra Williams with the S.C. Army National Guard sang the national anthem.
A bell tolled once for the veterans who died in each of this country’s wars and Newberry County Veterans Affairs Officer David Parnell read off the names of the sons and daughters of Newberry who died within the last year.
Keynote speaker was Col. Timothy D. Brandt of the S.C. National Guard, a 30-year commissioned officer with the signal corps. Brandt, who served with the 218th Infantry for operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, thanked the crowd in attendance and called upon them to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.
“We are here today to respect and honor our servicemen and servicewomen on this day of remembrance,” he said.
Brandt spoke of his duties while at war and of the mission as a communication officer for 16 battalions who was charged with helping veterans get the health care they deserved from their home states once they returned from service.
He remembered when he was 5-years-old and overheard a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps from the yard of the church parsonage.
“I will carry that memory with me for the rest of my life,” Brandt said.
He called on his fellow Americans to remember those who served from the Revolutionary War to present day, to remember their families who also sacrificed and to honor the values and character such service represents.
Per tradition, Posts No. 24 and No. 219 arranged a MIA/POW table with an empty chair, a MIA/POW flag and other symbols. The glass at the table was inverted and could not be toasted.
The round table symbolized the never -ending circle of prayer for those missing in action or for prisoners of war.
The white table cloth stood for the purity of heart with which servicemen and servicewomen accept their nation’s call. The blood red rose symbolizes the blood shed by so many and also the faith of the family and friends who continue to pray for the missing person.
A bitter lemon represented the bitter fate of the MIA and POW while salt sprinkled on the plate stood for the tears cried both by the missing and prisoners and by their families.
After prayers Carlton Kinard closed the service with a rendition of Taps.