Semper Fidelis: Nathan Elrod remembered in Charlotte ceremony
By Susan Shinn
CHARLOTTE ó Son. Brother. Friend. Marine. American hero.
Lance Corporal Nathan Elrod was remembered Saturday as the ceremony room at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Charlotte was named for him.
Nearly 50 people filled the small room, and another 20 more stood quietly in the hallway, including a half-dozen Marines in their dress blues.
More than 8,000 future servicemen and servicewomen pass through the station each year before reporting for training at their particular branch of service.
Elrod completed processing here on June 8, 2004. He was killed in action in Iraq on Oct. 21, 2006.
He was 20 years old.
Elrod was the son of Tim and Teresa Elrod of Rockwell, and the brother of Chris and Shannon Elrod.
When she was in high school, Shannon Elrod drew a detailed portrait of Elrod in full battle gear. This portrait is featured prominently in a framed display of the Marine, which was unveiled Saturday in the 20-minute ceremony.
Unveiling the 2-foot-by-3-foot gold frame were Marine Sgt. A.M. Roseboro and Petty Officer J. Rodriguez.
The display also includes a citation from the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps, a photograph of Elrod in his dress blues and a plaque dedicating the room to him.
“This room represents our future,” said Teresa Elrod, “and it represents all of the young men and women who made the decision to serve their country. Without these young people, without their sacrifices, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms we have today. I thank God for these brave young men and women.”
The room has wood paneled walls and dark blue carpet. The flags of the United States and North Carolina are on display on the stage, as well as flags from each branch of service and the National Guard. Round plaques of each branch of the Armed Forces ring the room.
Elrod’s portrait and photograph are prominent.
Major Ott Siebert, also a Marine, commands the station.
“Every day, I see young men and women go through these doors in hopes to make a difference in their lives and to give back to their country by serving in the Armed Forces to protect
the freedoms that we all enjoy and cherish,” Siebert said.
“Most of these young men and women go through our doors not knowing exactly what awaits them when they reach their training sites. But they quickly realize upon graduation and their indoctrination in their first duty of assignment that they are much more than just an average citizen into our society.
“They are now soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
Elrod’s mother said that she and her husband knew that Elrod was going to join the Marines with or without their support.
They chose to support him.
“He loved the Marines ó most of the time,” she said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Like Siebert, Major Jeff Morgan noted that Elrod wrote of his desire to join the Marines as a sophomore at East Rowan High School when he participated in his class legacy.
Morgan is commanding officer of the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Raleigh.
“He wrote about being a nice, caring person and a hardworking hero in the U.S. Marine Corps,” Morgan said. “His letters from boot camp poured with admiration and love for his family.”
He had a strong Christian background and a true appreciation for his upbringing and family values, Morgan said.
“He lived up exactly to his legacy and what he wanted to be,” Morgan said. “I meet Lance Corporal Nathan Elrod every day, in the high schools of North Carolina and on the streets of North Carolina.”
To Elrod’s parents, he said, “Thank you for raising a fine young man. He will be an inspiration for many years to come.
“To Lance Corporal Elrod, I say, ‘Mission accomplished. Semper Fidelis.’ ”
Teresa Elrod said afterward that the ceremony was “absolutely perfect.”
The display, she said, “represents both my children. That’s her tribute to him.”
Shannon Elrod’s reaction was, “Wow!”
She’s studying art at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, and plans to be a high-school art teacher. Because of her brother’s portrait, she has received several portrait commissions.
Tim Elrod said that the ceremony was wonderful.
He said that when you lose a child, “the only thing you worry about is that people will forget what he did and the sacrifices he made.”
Nathan Elrod’s father now knows that everyone at this station who takes the oath of service will remember his son.