WENDELL — American Legion Post 148 kept with its holiday tradition Sunday afternoon by serving hot dogs and chips, but not before Legionnaires and their guests took time to remember what makes such cookouts possible.
“Americans must remember that freedom isn’t free,” adjutant Allen White said during the Wendell Post’s Memorial Day ceremony last Sunday. “In fact, it’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price.”
A standing-room-only crowd packed the Post’s picnic shelter for what White said was about the twelfth such ceremony, a highlight of the Post’s year.
Attending were veterans and family members of all ages. Legionnaires sat along the far corner of the shelter, adjacent to a line of members of Corinth Holders High School’s Junior ROTC – the Pirate Battalion.
All faced a large American flag that served as a backdrop for the speakers at the event. It made it hard to forget the reason everyone was there.
“It’s always very much the same,” White said. “It’s for our servicemen who have died in action. That’s what it’s all about – to remember and never forget.
“This really speaks highly of the community. Every year we have a little more than the previous year and that swells our heart.”
After recognizing Post members and visiting veterans and playing the National Anthem, Commander Ricky Ray told the story of Fort McHenry and shared the first three verses from The Star-Spangled Banner.
“Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag,” Ray challenged the crowd. “Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.”
White then gave attendees something to think about as they prepared for the Monday holiday.
He said a recent poll revealed only 28 percent of Americans know the real meaning of Memorial Day and that most view it as a day off from work or school instead of a time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“Honoring America’s fallen service members on Memorial Day doesn’t require a huge investment of money or time,” White said. “What’s important is making sure the sacrifices made by our nation’s sons and daughters aren’t forgotten.
“This service and the people here today show that our veterans and citizens do recognize and honor this day for the reason it was intended.”
Americanism Committee chairperson Greta Crayton recognized rising seniors from Corinth Holders, East Wake High School and East Wake Academy the local Post is sponsoring for the leadership development program, Boys State. She also spoke of another Legion program recognizing upcoming graduates who were selected by their high schools for demonstrating courage, honor, scholarship, leadership, service and patriotism.
“It is our privilege to honor our fallen by sponsoring these programs and recognizing the future through youth,” Crayton said.
The Post concluded the ceremony by rendering “Taps” and offering free graveside flags along with the meal.
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews