Clarksville, TN – On Monday, May 25th, the Montgomery County Veterans Service Organization held its annual Memorial Day Ceremony. Due to rain, the ceremony was held in the William O. Beach Civic Hall, Veterans Plaza in Clarksville Tennessee.
The ceremony was opened by Frank Mir, the Director of the Montgomery County Veterans Service Organization. Mir welcomed the dignitaries and attendees to the Memorial ceremony. The colors were posted by the 101st Airborne Division Honor Guard, and Stella McKnight sang the National Anthem.Faith Outreach Community Church Pastor Dr. David Wesner gave the Invocation.
Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett then spoke.
“It is truly an honor for me to be here today. Memorial Day was originally called Declaration Day. It originated after the Civil War in 1868. The first official National Declaration Day took place in Washington D.C. on May 30th, 1868 at Arlington Cemetery,” said Durrett. “The honorable James A. Garfield was one of the people who was called upon to speak that day. Garfield had been a Major General in the Union army and had fought in the battles Shiloh and Chickamauga. Garfield would go on to become the 20th President of the United States of America.”
Durrett then read a quote from James A. Garfield
I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.
With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens.
For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.
“So today we all gather here to give thanks to those who gave their lives for our freedoms. God bless each of you and God bless America,” said Durrett.
Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan then said a few words.
“It is an honor to be apart of this event and I appreciate the invitation to join you again this year. Memorial Day has a very special purpose. To remember the men and women who have given their all for our country’s security and our individual freedom.”
“On Memorial Day we stop to remember that our freedom is not free. We hold these men and women in our hearts, in our memories because they made the ultimate sacrifice. They put on a uniform that represents us all. They followed our nation’s flag into service and sometimes into direct fire. It is important to remember their sacrifices.”
“Over the past year we have heard a quite deal of talk about possible changes at Fort Campbell. I hope and trust the outpouring of community support and interest in our community has shown prove that Clarksville never forgets our solders. We are fortunate to live in a community where we have the opportunity everyday to say thank you and to support our service members and their families.”
Guest speaker Deputy Commissioner Wendell Cheek with the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services addressed the audience.
“I can’t tell you what an honor and a privilege it is for me to be with you today. Over the years, our patriotic holidays have merged and the reason for each celebration has been blurred. I was encouraged to see the high school folks here today because it is important that they understand what today is all about,” stated Cheek.
“The most powerful way we can remember our fallen heroes and support their surviving families is to make the most of our freedom. I thank each and every one of you for being here today. You’re here because you want to be here. We are all bound by that one common bond and that’s freedom,” said Cheek. “We have that freedom for the sacrifices that so many brave men and women gave for us. Thank you and may God bless each of you.”
After speaking, Cheek along with Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan laid the official wreath before the War Memorial which honors the memory of those soldiers, sailors, and airmen from Clarksville-Montgomery County who died in the service of their country. After placing the wreath they paused for a moment of silence and introspection.
After the laying of the official wreath, area veterans service organizations placed their own wreaths to commemorate the day.
Pastor Wesner then return to the podium to give the benediction. A bugler from the 101st Airborne Division band sounded the melancholy notes of taps.
The ceremony was closed out by remarks from Frank Mir.
“Most people lose sight of that. They look at this as being the beginning of summer, time to barbeque and have a good time,” stated Hopwood. “I am grateful that we live in a community that remembers the real reason for Memorial Day.”
Of the day, Montgomery County Commissioner Tommy Vallejos stated, “Just being here today reminds me of meeting Omar Bradley in June 1980 at Fort Bliss, TX at basic training. They brought a bunch of privates in to meet with him. I did not know who he was. I didn’t know anything about him.”
“The first thing he talked about was the greatest generation of men he had led in World War II and the sacrifice. Being a new recruit, I didn’t know the value till later on in my career that I had spoken to a man who led a generation in war. Many who gave and didn’t come back,” said Vallejos.
“So today, just reminds me of that day, meeting one of our last living five star generals who talked about the ultimate sacrifice. Today, our men and women continue to give the ultimate sacrifice. After my 21 years of service, been retired 15 years now, I never forget you can a retiree out of the army but you cant get the army out of the retiree,” stated Vallejos. “Because you always remember the men and women who gave.”