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Fallen veterans honored at Woodland Cemetery ceremony

The Ironton Tribune - 5/31/2024

May 31—By Joseph DiCristofaro

The Ironton Tribune

Multiple speakers at Woodland Cemetery said on Sunday that the important aspect that must be remembered is that despite festivities, Memorial Day serves as the day to remember fallen heroes of America.

"God willing this day gets us to put aside our political differences in pursuit of a single goal, honoring our fallen heroes," said Mark McCown, an Ironton attorney.

Citizens of Lawrence County have shown their respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for over a century and continue to do so.

"For over 150 years the citizens of Lawrence County have gathered to pay homage to those who committed themselves to the defense of this great nation," McCown said. "These traditions are important, they help educate our youth about our history, and they provide an opportunity for us to take a break from our busy lives to focus on our love for our nation and our community."

The community has not forgotten the importance and loss that comes along with honoring these fallen veterans.

"These American ideals and spirit, these things are why veterans fought and died," McCown said. "The cost of freedom has always been high."

Before the next speaker arrived at the podium McCown left the crowd with a question to dwell on as the holiday traditions approach its climax.

"We see in the media everyday conflict in our country, our national elected leaders bickering among themselves, veterans funding and healthcare being used as pawns oftentimes by dysfunctional congress," McCown said. "These are dark times; it causes us to pause, and wonder are we worthy of the sacrifice of those that lay in these graves?"

Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Sites arrived at the podium dressed in a combat uniform, as opposed to dress blues for the occasion.

"It would be telling to wear a combat uniform, something that resembles what a lot of our fallen soldiers wore for the last time of their life," Sites said.

Sites encouraged those in attendance to check in on veterans they know and that the battlefield can sometimes follow them home.

"We have veterans dying every day because they come home, and their battle doesn't end, America may be at peace but some of them are still at war," Sites said.

Sites also presented the spectators with a challenge in order to preserve the true purpose of Memorial Day for future generations.

"We need to educate our youth, do they really know the meaning of the holiday," Sites said.

The speakers were also accompanied by music, performed by the Rock Hill High School Choir, and the invocation and benediction delivered by Brother Chad Pemberton. The Ironton VFW Post 8850 accompanied by a local Boy Scout troop led the placement of the Memorial Wreaths.

The service was concluded with a gunnery salute and the playing of taps.

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