Following a violent thunderstorm the night before, the weather cleared Monday morning just in time for the Turnbow-Higgs American Legion Post 240 and Auxiliary Unit 240 to continue a 16-year tradition hosting the Memorial Day event in the West Memorial Cemetery, Veterans Field of Honor.

Perhaps Army Lt. Colonel Marty Deckard, department head and professor of military science at TSU, summed up Memorial Day best when he pointed out prior to the event that it is a somber occasion that honors all the Americans who have died in our nation’s defense.

“This is a time set aside to remember and reflect on the sacrifices of more than 1.8 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of this great nation," he said. “These include the 34 US Service Members who have died supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since last year’s Memorial Day.” 

Over 100 people – including many veterans and their families - attended the ceremony that began with Post 240 Commander Burton Smith welcoming attendees.

His remarks were followed by the invocation by Le Roy Griffin, the raising of the American flag to the song, “To the Colors,” and a beautifully-sung rendition of the National Anthem by SHS sophomore Destinee King.

This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Matt Hallgarth, a retired Air Force major and veteran of the Bosnia/Kosovo war, who is currently associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at TSU.

His was a moving address in which he said, “Committing these few moments, remembering those who died is a worthy thing, what President Abraham Lincoln said ‘is altogether fitting and proper.’"

He also cited a sad irony about those who have died defending our nation, quoting President Herbert Hoover.

“Old men declare war but it is the youth that must fight and die."