Memorial Day Ceremony at Stumptown Park

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For all American citizens, especially to our veterans who have served our nation in both war and peace this special day has much meaning emotionally and mentally throughout our country.  We celebrate annually to appreciate the sacrifices made by our military members who have fallen.

Alan Burgess Commander American Legion Post 235.

It’s a day to honor the memory of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country, and of the others who have dropped their burdens of life and have gone to their eternal rest.  Memorial Day is about the privilege and duty of patriotism.

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor.

Memorial Day was borne from the Civil War and a desire by many to honor our dead.  It was proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, National  Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his “General Order No.11” The 30th of May 1868.  He originally proclaimed this date Decoration Day.  However, after World War I the holiday changed from honoring those who died during the Civil War to honoring the fallen Americans who died fighting in all wars.

The Frontier Girls and Boy Scouts.

There is no better way to show our gratitude and patriotism than to experience a POW/MIA service as a symbol of the thousands of American POW/MIAs still not accounted for from all wars and conflicts involving our nation.

The POW/MIA Remembrance Service is always emotionally moving.  To those who are not familiar the ceremony follows the same script every time it is performed.  It is done in various venues at military ceremonies, balls, dinners, luncheons and many other events.

It begins by turning the attention of the participants to a small table which occupies a place of dignity and honor for all to witness.  The table is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from the ranks.  They are our POWs and MIAs.  These military members are unable to be with their loved ones and families.  Therefore, we join together to pay humble tribute to them and to bear witness to their continued absence.  The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against their suppressors.

POW/MIA Remembrance Service.

The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intention to respond to their Country’s call to arms.

The single rose in a vase signifies the blood they may have shed in their sacrifice to ensure that our nation remains free.  The rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing companions who keep faith, while awaiting their return home.

The red ribbon on the vase represents the red ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper account of our companions who are not among us.

A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate they must endure.

The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears shed by the families as they wait for their beloved one to return.

The glass stands inverted, these souls cannot toast with us at this time.

The chair remains empty, they are not here with us.

The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts, to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return and have paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom.

This Memorial Day ceremony was attended by American Legion Post 235, Frontier Girls, Marine Corps League Detachment 750, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, Representatives Robert Pittenger and Bob Becker, Janene McGee, Mecklenburg County Veterans Services.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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