TROY — More than 100 community members gathered at Troy’s Riverside Cemetery to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice during the city’s annual Memorial Day service Monday afternoon.
Ron Pennybacker of VFW Post 5436 recognized the prisoners of war and missing in action with the “Missing Man” tablescape.
Pennybacker noted the symbolism of each item on the table as a physical reminder of those who sacrificed their lives, were prisoners of war and for those who are still unaccounted for. A prayer calls for the hope that one day they are returned “to our ranks.”
Keynote speaker Selena Loyd, Miami County Director of Veteran Services said, “I believe honoring our fallen is the most rewarding experience you can ever have because you get to show respect, appreciation and giving beyond yourself. My most enjoyable period of service was serving on the honor guard on the base I was stationed with.”
Loyd joined the Georgia Air Force Reserves as a telecommunication operator. Now a retired Air Force officer, Loyd serves local veterans by connecting them to services.
“Memorial Day is to recall what those who served and sacrificed for you and me. It is to never to forget they fulfilled John 15:13 ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lays down one’s life for his friends.’” Let us show respect for this Memorial Day and beyond by doing what they did best — serve,” she said.
Loyd said Memorial Day is to honor those men and women who sacrificed their lives. She said while Memorial Day is a day to remember those “who put their country’s needs before their own to make these United States a strong country,” she believes as a country, “we are losing that strength.”
“We are weakening from the inside out. They left a legacy, but are we carrying it on? We are here today to honor the fallen, but I’m also here to challenge veterans, military members and every citizen in the city and I hope throughout the county.”
Loyd quoted former President John F. Kennedy Jr.’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
“They didn’t consider themselves or the benefits they might get. They answered the call and fought the war, not only for our freedom and liberty, but also to prevent tyranny and extinction throughout the world,” she said.
Loyd said veterans built the country on hard work and service to all, not just for a few and looked out for their neighbor.
“They were a ‘We’ generation, not an ‘I’ generation. It was what was best for all, not just a few,” she said.
Loyd noted the positive impact veteran’s organizations have on veteran’s lives, their families, children and widows, and within the communities they call home.
“As citizens, whether we are veterans, military members or never served, we are the community and we have a duty to serve within our community,” Loyd said. “We have a duty to continue to make better what those who came before us established. Making America great again is not up to our politicians … because it wasn’t them who made it great in the first place, but us ordinary citizens …”
Loyd warned if the country continues to divide itself in politics, race and other sectors, the United State of America will become divided and will fall.
She encouraged younger community members to get involved in community organizations as veterans and leaders age. She said they will need youth to take their place and continue service to the community in a variety of ways.
“If us young veterans don’t get involved and serve, these organizations will fold and so will our strength and benefits and support,” she warned.
Loyd said the torch has been passed to the younger generation, borrowing a quote from former President Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction.”
“They passed the torch to us. We must keep it lit, keep it going and pass it off to the next generation. We must show the example. We can’t let a few do it all … it must begin with us,” she said.
Pennybacker also noted the members of the Veterans Memorial Honor Guard and their service. American Legion Auxiliary Post 43’s April Finch read the 96 names of departed veterans as part of the service. Pennybacker said the Honor Guard performed services for those 96 former military members, which averaged to be two services twice a week all year.
“These guys are there. They go at the drop of a hat. The phone rings, they are there the next day or the day after that. Two times a week, all year long,” he said.
Pennybacker also encouraged those former military service members in attendance to join the Honor Guard to help honor those who served as they are laid to rest.
The Troy High School band performed the musical scores throughout the services. As the band played the military branch marches, William Behm, 5, marched along to the beat of “The Army Goes Rolling Along” — the U.S. Army’s theme.
Susan Behm, and husband Tom, a U.S. Army veteran, brought William and twin brother Thomas to the service on Monday.
“It’s important to teach them that they need to put their hand over their heart for the flag,” Susan shared.
Reach Melanie Yingst @firstname.lastname@example.org
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