THOMASVILLE — More than 100 people paused at Veterans Point on Memorial Day to hear stories and view pictorial banners in memory of soldiers killed or missing in action.
Flags recognized all five branches of the military. The new Space Force flag was presented to add to the display.
North Carolina Memorial Day Parade and Celebration Committee member Jim Little, author of the book “Fathers of the Greatest Generation: The Thomasville Blues,” said 233 people from Davidson County were killed in five wars between 1918 to 2008.
While Little focused his remarks on a small number who were killed in action, he noted all the rest of the fallen have stories too. Little and Thomasville City Council member Neal Grimes encouraged audience members to take the time to look at the pictorial banners on temporary display and the permanent plaques in memory of local service members at the base of 50 American flags. People circulated and snapped photos with their cellphones before and after the ceremony.
Grimes said he was pleased with the number of people who participated in the car caravan from downtown to Cushwa Stadium in lieu of the annual parade.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Malcomb Calhoun said veterans appreciate it when people thank them for their service, but noted such sentiments are best shown on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. For a Gold Star family who lost a son or daughter, Memorial Day is a better occasion to thank them for their sacrifice. As a survivor outreach service coordinator for the past decade, Calhoun has visited homes of families to notify them of a death.
“When we get a notification of the death of a fallen, we have four hours to notify the family of their fatality,” Calhoun said. “So that means if the family is on vacation or at work, we have to locate them. We have to make that notification in person, in dress uniform, a notification officer and a chaplain. You’re in that neighborhood with this uniform on and everyone in that neighborhood knows what you’re there for. Then you walk up to a family’s house. You knock on the door and you basically rip the guts out of a person because you are telling them they have lost their son or daughter or husband or wife.”
Gold Star mother Cole M. Masear of Archdale told the audience Memorial Day is emotional for her family since the death of her son Jacob Carroll, who was killed on Nov. 13, 2010 in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber detonated a vest bomb.
“My husband and I were talking earlier today, and even in our lives before Jake was killed, Memorial Day meant something different for us,” Masear said. “I hate to admit, it was a long holiday. It was anything but what it means to my heart now, which is you have men and women around the world standing guard for our protection.”
While Masear urged others in attendance to show respect for all who serve or have served in the military, she challenged all to remember the fallen and that “the patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.”