Freedom comes at a cost. The American Legion Post 48 remembered the men and women Sunday who helped bring freedom to the nation.
With the sounds of a jet flying over a crowd of about 75 people, veterans and community members looked up with one thing in mind – remembrance of those sounds during a time of war when many lives were lost so Americans can live freely. These sounds and memories define Memorial Day.
“(Memorial Day is a time to) remember soldiers lost and never forget what they did,” said Harry Flynn, commander for the Hickory American Legion Post 48, during the ceremony at the Hickory Airport.
Hickory Aviation Museum Director Jeff Wofford said many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer or an ideal time to save money on hamburgers, hot dogs and cars. But Wofford said Memorial Day’s definition will never change with the weather or television advertisement.
“Memorial Day is a time when we remember the men and women who gave their lives (for our nation),” Wofford said. “We celebrate Memorial Day to remember those who paid the ultimate price.”
Wofford, who is a Navy veteran, said more than 4 million soldiers have died trying to protect the nation, while another 2 million people died from war side effects.
“We truly need to remember that the red stripes in the (American) flag represent blood shed,” Wofford said.
Rich and poor, black and white people from various religious backgrounds are remembered on Memorial Day for the “sacrifice they made for this country,” Wofford said.
A bell ceremony was conducted for soldiers lost on sea, land and in air, and more than 50 names of veterans deceased since the last Memorial Day were read aloud to the public.
A presentation of wreaths was conducted to honor deceased veterans, followed by a 21-gun salute as the crowd stood solemn in remembrance.
“If you want to see something, go look at Arlington,” said Jim Dorion, of Lenoir, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “The true heroes didn’t come back. Those who died are heroes because they died trying to be something.”