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Salisbury National Cemetery Memorial Day service honors lives lost

By Jessica Coates


Some sat in folding chairs that had been arranged under large white tents. Others sat in their own chairs, brought from home, their elbows balancing on armrests while their sunglasses defended against the bright morning light. Some stood for the entirety of the nearly hourlong ceremony, hands grasped respectfully in front of them as they watched the solemn proceedings.

But all of the nearly 90 people gathered at the Salisbury National Cemetery Annex on Monday had come with heaviness in their hearts.

“I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to come out (and) to help us honor our brothers and sisters here,” said retired Master Sgt. Dean Moore.

Moore was the first of six people to speak at the Memorial Day ceremony, which was held at 10 a.m. at the cemetery’s committal shelter. From the shelter’s position in the cemetery, attendees could see rows of neat, white tombstones stretching out into the distance below.

“It doesn’t matter what branch of service you were in or what job you (had),” Moore said. “Every brother and sister that we’re honoring here today played an important part of our nation’s constant and ongoing mission … to keep us free.”

O’Neal Cunningham, director of Salisbury National Cemetery, praised the sacrifices that were given by the men and women who paid the “price of freedom.”

“They all knew full well that the potential price of freedom – the price of what they chose to defend – just might result in their own death. Yet they served anyway,” he said. “They most certainly joined not believing it would be the end, for, if they did, victory would never be possible.”

Cunningham pointed out that since the American Revolution, about 45 million Americans have served in some capacity.

“Their selfless service, and that of their families, have sustained our way of life for nearly two-and-a-half centuries,” he said.

The keynote speaker, Lt. Ollie Mae Carroll, the current commander of J.C. Price American Legion Post, personally saluted every family member and friend in the audience who had lost loved ones.

“Most of the men and women who die in war are young. Whether teenaged troops or middle-aged commanders, we do know they left us too early,” she said. “But can any of us who are living say that we accomplished more on our fuller lifespans than those we honor today?”

She also added that, “for our fallen heroes, the task is done. Ours remains before us.”

In line with honoring that task – the task of remembering those lost and making sure they are not forgotten by others – Cunningham concluded his speech with a call to action, of sorts. A call to leave no soldier behind.

“Later, if you journey through this cemetery to visit a loved one, you will certainly come across headstones of those you do not know. … I thank you (in advance) for visiting them as well, as they rest peacefully with their brothers and sisters. For they had a story of hope and ambition, too. We are here, and we are their family.”

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.



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