Observance Remembers Sacrifice
Memorial Day Parade at Sandhills Children's Center
A torrential downpour set a somber, yet peaceful atmosphere as the community gathered Monday in The Village Chapel in Pinehurst to give “honor, gratitude and praise” to veterans.
Monday was Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers, present and past.
“We are not here to grieve,” the Rev. Dr. Al Hill said. “We are here to remember.”
Following the posting of the colors by the Navy Junior ROTC from Union Pines High School, the Rev. Thomas E. Parsons delivered the invocation.
John L. Mims, a survivor of the Bataan Death March and prisoner of war in WWII, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
A veteran himself, Hill, delivered the memorial address. Hill completed 30 years of commissioned military service. He served on active duty as a Navy chaplain for 28 of those years. He is now associate pastor at The Village Chapel.
“Memorial Day is all about remembering, but remembering can be a tricky thing,” he said.
While remembering specific missions was difficult, he said, “the dead are never far from my consciousness.”
“We all have a debt we cannot pay,” he said. “We cannot repay it, but we can and must acknowledge it.”
Honoring sacrifice, rather than heroism, was a prominent theme of Hill’s address.
“Those we honor gave their lives,” he said. “They did not lose them. We did. They gave all they were and all the potential that had to become.”
A large number of veterans attended the annual observance, sponsored by the Sandhills Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. Many those at the service likely had a parent, grandparent, sibling or child who had served, or was currently serving. Members of the U.S. Marine Corps League, Detachment 1001 served as ushers.
But Hill stressed that Memorial Day must also be a time to honor those veterans for whom no one puts flowers at their grave — veterans who may not have a headstone at all.
Calling them the “forgotten fallen,” Hill said they are equally deserving of our gratitude and remembrance.
The Golf Capital Chorus Ensemble provided an upbeat choral interlude of “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
Towards the end of his address, Hill emphasized the importance of action over words. He said everyone, through their deeds, must honor a covenant with every fallen soldier: a promise to not let them have died in vain.
“As the words now fall silent,” Hill said, “let the deeds continue.”
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