Members of our community paused to recognize fallen heroes during a Memorial Day program held Monday morning at the new auditorium in the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.
Following a program of patriotic music and songs by Josh Gulley and Susan Hinton, guest speaker Major Jerry Parker paid tribute to those who served our nation and particularly those from DeKalb County.
"Today is Memorial Day. One of two national holidays when we honor those who serve in the Armed Forces. On November 11 each year we honor our living veterans. Six months later, we honor and remember those who are no longer with us, especially those veterans who gave their lives on the field of battle," said Major Parker.
"America is only 236 years old. But since July 4, 1776, there have been 1-million, 317-thousand 812 Americans killed in action in our armed forces. That figure does not include the many thousands listed as missing in action," he said.
"Memorial Day has gradually changed from a day of remembrance to a day best known now as a day for the beginning of the summer season and for the Indianapolis car race and the Coca Cola 600 stock car race. However, there are still communities such as DeKalb County, which take time from the Memorial Day weekend activities to remember those who have served in our armed forces and who now lie silently in the grave waiting for the resurrection," said Major Parker.
"While we are gathered here today, let us take time to remember the men from DeKalb County who gave their lives in battle in foreign lands and on far away oceans. Most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. We see their names on a plaque at the courthouse and we see their pictures on the wall at schools and in churches. Or in a living room, where a grieving mother after all these years, still mourns for her boy who never came home," he said.
"These men from DeKalb County who died in service to our country did not want to die. But when they were called to duty, they did not flinch and they did not back down when they laid their lives on the line. They were and are our heroes today. We look at their faces in the pictures and notice how young they were. They never grew old. They are forever young. In some ways they are our greatest generation because they gave two lives for their country. They gave the life they had and they gave the life they never had so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in America and here in DeKalb County," said Major Parker.
"I believe our fallen veterans from DeKalb County would not want us to be sad faced on this Memorial Day. They would want us to enjoy the benefits of freedom they fought for and died for. I think they would also want us to remember them and what they did for us," he said.
"As we leave here today to join family and friends at picnics, cookouts, and other Memorial Day activities, let each of us with real gratitude in our hearts promise that our fallen veterans will always be remembered and never forgotten," said Major Parker.
Major Parker, who was born and raised in Chattanooga, graduated from UT Chattanooga and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. He served a year in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious service in combat. He later entered the active Army Reserve for six years and served as a Company Commander and as a Brigade staff officer with the rank of Major. He is also a retired Vice President of American General Life and Accident Insurance Company.
The program also included an invocation by Chuck Olson, Pledge of Allegiance by Doyle Smith, a remembrance of local servicemen by Judy Redmon, and the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial Monument in front of the courthouse. Emma Rigsby played taps on her trumpet at the conclusion of the program.