Memorial Day events honor those who died for our freedom
Posted May 25, 2015
Fayetteville, N.C. — In parks and cemeteries across the nation, at Arlington National Cemetery, in big cities and small towns, people paused Monday to mark Memorial Day, the annual holiday to the nation's war dead.
It is a day to remember those who embrace duty, honor and country and who make the ultimate sacrifice, down through the generations and in conflicts around the world.
For retired Sgt. Maj. Barney Rasor, in the crowd at Fayetteville's Freedom Memorial Park, Monday brought memories of the young lieutenant whom he tried to save. Rasor has two Purple Hearts and shrapnel in his thigh, the constant reminder of that young man's death.
Tom McArthur, 88, observed Memorial Day at the State Capitol. He served on board a ship bombed by Japanese suicide pilots as a 17-year-old boy.
Memorial Day gives him a feeling of pride mixed with melancholy.
"Everybody shakes your hand and says, 'Thanks for your service,' so you know it's a grateful nation," McArthur said. "We're not really the heroes, though. The heroes are the people that didn't come back."
McArthur did come back. He got the opportunity to became a husband, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. And so he stood to honor those who did not.
“No warrior wants to die," said Raymond Schrump, a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. "But he willingly gives his life for preservation and protection of our way of life, and, by God, they need to be honored.”
Younger veterans are still coming to terms with the losses of the war on terror, and many still have friends on the battlefield.
"We've all lost somebody," said William Harper. “I have had friends and family in the past that didn’t make it home."
A sea of flags blanketed the ground at Fayetteville's event while a midday ceremony specific to the service of special operations K-9 soldiers and their handlers was scheduled at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.
Wreaths were laid at the State Capitol and Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, and patriotic music rang through the air. The crowd included young and old – from babies in arms to aging World War II veterans, for whom the bugler brought back memories of friends lost long ago.
In Wilmington, the Battleship North Carolina celebrated its 50th annual Memorial Day observance with a speech by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and music by a military band.
The battleship is now is a state memorial to World War II veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during that war.