York County community members both young and old gathered together to remember those who have died defending the United States of America.
The annual Memorial Day ceremony at Lakeview Memory Gardens in York Sunday drew a large crowd of veterans, mothers of sons and daughters who died fighting for their country and supporters.
The event honored both those who are no longer living and those who still remain as reminders of what freedom costs.
“Today the guest of honor is our fallen comrade,” said Col. Melinda Woodhurst, York County veterans service officer. “Unfortunately for some, Memorial Day is a day off, it’s a day to eat BBQ … but I tell you Memorial Day is not free. Today is not free. Somebody … wrote a blank check for their lives in the defense of this grateful nation.”
Unfortunantly for some Memorial Day is a day off, it’s a day to eat BBQ … but I tell you Memorial Day is not free. Today is not free. Somebody … wrote a blank check for their lives in the defense of this grateful nation.
Col. Melinda Woodhurst
Woodhurst, a Lancaster native, served 26 years in the military as a Logistician in the U.S. Army, according to the event program. She has served in two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and was awarded numerous medals.
Woodhurst earned her Bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University in 1983 after graduating from Georgia Military College in 1980 as a Distinguished Military Graduate.
Woodhurst said Memorial Day is about honoring the “countless lives who went out and answered the call of duty for this nation who did not come home.”
“Today, we owe a debt of gratitude to them and their families,” she said.
Community member Libby Baker helped recognize the local Gold Star Mothers, or mothers of men and women who have died in battle.
“They have given their lives to save you and me,” she said. “If they weren’t there to sacrifice, we might not be here to do this.”
As each service flag was raised to the sound of that branch’s medley, members of the Army, Marines, Navy, Airforce and Coast Guard stood to applause.
TJ Martin, commander of Ex-prisoners of war of SC and a POW of the Korean War, recognized ex-prisoners of war.
Martin said he is the only living POW in York County and has worked Memorial Day ceremonies for more than 60 years.
“God bless America,” he said.
The Honor Guard of Rock Hill’s Post 2889 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars presented the colors, followed by a rendition of the National Anthem and “God Bless the USA” sung by Annette Marlow.
The ceremony took place next to the York County Veterans Memorial, dedicated on May 25, 1986. Lee Smoak, a WWII veteran, placed the Fallen Veterans Memorial Wreath on the memorial.
During the ceremony, the names of comrades killed in action from WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom were read aloud.
A twenty-one gun salute and the playing of Taps wrapped up the event.