HARRELLS — Community members honored veterans and those who died while serving in the armed forces during a Saturday ceremony at Harrells Park.
The event featured remarks from several community members and special guests such as Beth Stovall, Miss North Carolina, who performed several patriotic songs during the event. Cindy Ezzell, program organizer and town clerk,said she was happy people came to celebrate and honor the deceased soldiers during the 16th annual event. Mayor James Moore was also pleased with the turnout, which featured a march to the park led by the Sampson County Firemen’s Association Honor Guard.
“We’re just so glad that we can continue to come together and think about the sacrifices that so many have made and recognize all the people who served,” Moore attested “We’re a small community but this means a lot to so many people.”
Paula Matthis, spiritual life director for Harrells Christian Academy, discussed the history and etiquette for the United States Flag during the ceremony.
“The flag signifies the commitment made by the fallen comrades we honor today, those that battled bravely to defend the sacred honor of this emblem,” Matthis said.
Following the reading of a proclamation from President Barack Obama, Matthew Ezzell of Wallace Boy Scout Troop 35 presented the Honor and Remember Flag. It was created to serve as a national symbol to acknowledge the sacrifices of men and women who served. He was assisted by Stovall and Miss Goldsboro Victoria Baskett.
“We will always honor their selfless sacrifices and remember them individually by name,” Ezzell said to the audience, members who spent their Saturday morning watching the presentation.
While many people engage in leisure activities during the federal holiday, Moore said he was glad that people still take time to attend such events.
Susan Adkins was one of those individuals. “It’s a good time to honor those who have fallen in service,” Adkins said.
Adkin’s 90-year-old father, William Batts, served in World War II. Her deceased brother also served in the 1960s Six-Day War. Although they did not die during combat, she stressed the importance of honoring soldiers.
“Freedom isn’t free,” Adkins sstressed.
Edler Omorodion-Bowie experienced his first Memorial Day event Saturday. The England native is currently visiting Sampson County as part of a mission trip associated with The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints.
“I thought it was very good to show respect for your veterans,” Omorodion-Bowie said. “It was a very good experience.”
As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Sampson County Commissioner Harry Parker said it was a privilege to have attended the event. His son, Travis, is currently serving and fighting terrorism with the U.S. Navy and is serving on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is stationed in the Mediterranean.
“It’s an honor just to be here in the midst of people who understand what has taken place and what it means to the United States,” Parker said. “Some have given their lives and others have given their time to see that we stay a free nation.”