On a Limestone County stage replete with red, white and blue wreaths and flags, a general reminded an audience Monday that more than 60 Limestone County residents have died during battles between World War II and the present.
“In towns and cities all across America, people are gathering today, just as we are, here in Athens, to remember our departed service members,” Brig Gen. Ted Harrison said during the Memorial Day remembrance at the Limestone County Event Center.
Harrison, who is commanding general of U.S. Army Contracting Command and keynote speaker for the event, said, “And, while these events may involve somber and solemn tones, other opportunities for remembrance may evoke happier memories.”
He reminded the attending crowd — filled with uniformed soldiers of every generation — that “honor, service and gratitude” are the reasons they gathered.
“Today is the day in which we honor and celebrate the service and sacrifices of these veterans,” he said. “A time for reunions with family members and friends. And, a time of reflection on the lives well-lived and the valiant contributions of those servicemen and women given to maintain our many cherished freedoms.”
Harrison, a distant relative of the nation’s 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison — who served from 1889–1893 — told the crowd how Memorial Day came about.
“The Memorial Day observance in the United States dates back to the early years immediately following our Civil War, when the organized practice of adorning soldiers’ graves with flowers was first documented,” he said. “It was known than as “Decoration Day,” the term arising from an 1868 order to “decorate the graves with the choicest flowers of springtime.”
Harrison reminded the audience not to forget the mothers and family of the fallen.
“While we pause to honor our fallen, let us not forget to acknowledge the sacrifice and the loss experienced by those left behind — our Gold Star Mothers and family members,” he said. “Words cannot express our appreciation for the gifts your service member has shared with us — their selfless service, their steadfast commitment to God and country, and their friendship. We will always treasure their memory.”