Honoring America#039;s fallen

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

"We seek to honor and pay respects to those men and women who stand between liberty and tyranny."

Those were the words of Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander Keith Harman Sunday afternoon as Lawrence Countians gathered for the annual Woodland Cemetery service.

The service is one of the community's long-standing tributes to those who have given their lives for the country and to honor those who currently serve in the armed forces.

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In his opening remarks, master of ceremonies Brent Pyles noted that Lawrence County has "a long history of remembering our soldiers and sailors … remembering their sacrifices for our freedoms."

In his keynote address, Harman urged the audience to always honor the sacrifices made through the years so that America could remain a free country.

"We honor their memory but at the same time, we mourn them. … They served their country well, standing between the enemy and us, between good and evil," he said.

And he urged people to remember not only service men and women but their families as well.

Phyllis Hall, of Crossville, Tenn., and her husband, Leon, brought their great-grandchildren, Phillip and Destiny Ables to the Woodland Cemetery service. The last time the twins were in town, they were in strollers. This time, they are 4-years-old.

"Memorial Day is all about honoring our veterans who served our country, died for our country," Phyllis Hall said as she looked around the soldier's section. "I have a lot of family buried here."

She is a native of Lawrence County, but moved away years ago. Hall said she tries to come home every year or two, and tries to plan her visit on Memorial Day weekend.

Like many of his wife's relatives, Leon Hall is a veteran, having served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. Leon Hall said he came to the service to "show appreciation for those who are (buried) here."

In his benediction, the Rev. Chad Pemberton, pastor of LaGrange Freewill Baptist Church, thanked God for those who have served in the armed services in the past and asked that God would "watch over and protect those in harm's way" who are serving in the military now.

During the service, local service men and women were honored: the Ohio Army National Guard 216th Engineering Battalion; Capt. Patricia Sanders, U.S. Army; and Spec. Brandon McFann, a local U.S. Army soldier injured in Iraq earlier this year.

VFW Post 8850

provided a gunnery salute and color guard. Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart also participated in the service.

Area resident Chris Laber provided patriotic music and bugler Martin Smith.

The area's Memorial Day observance now moves to downtown Ironton for the 137th annual Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, scheduled for 10 a.m. today.