Scores of locals crowded an open field adjacent to Hillside Cemetery in Laurinburg to salute the work of American veterans during a Memorial Day ceremony sponsored by the Scotland County Veterans’ Council.
Monday’s solemn event featured an educational speech from keynote speaker Lt. Col. (retired) Justin Blum, who heads the Marlboro County High School JROTC.
In his speech, Blum put Memorial Day into the historical context that he fears some Americans “may have forgotten.”
“It is the veteran, not the preacher who has given us freedom or religion, and the veteran, not the campus organizer who has given us the right to protest,” said Blum.
Blum continued by reminding the assembly of the role of veterans in defending the rights of Americans to vote and have a fair trial.
The retired Lt. Colonel also told the audience of several valorous acts by former American servicemen and women, warning that “their bravery and accomplishments should never be forgotten.”
After noting that more than one-million have died in service to their country in all of America’s conflicts, Blum said that those who have served their country are the “only true American idols.”
Also during the ceremony, a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Angie Tyson was followed by the presentation of the colors by members of the Marlboro County JROTC.
Floral tributes were offered following Blum’s speech, with representatives of several organizations taking turns laying the flower arrangements at a memorial site.
Included in the tributes were flowers from the governments of Scotland County and Laurinburg, along with the Pilot Club and several area veterans’ organizations.
The afternoon concluded with a prayer by Rev. Donald B. Rollins of the Word of Life Assembly of God church punctuated by a 21 gun salute from the American Legion 10th District Ritual Team.
Rollins asked in he prayer that “everything that (United States servicemen and women) lay their hands on will prosper.”
Special guests at the ceremony included Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker, along with city council member Mary Jo Adams and Scotland County Board of Commissioners Guy McCook and Bob Davis.
Also attending was Scotland County’s retiring state Sen. Bill Purcell.
Serving as master of ceremonies for the tribute was Jimmy Bennett, vice-president of the Scotland County Veterans Council.
“It really says a lot about the wonderful people of Scotland County that so many have turned out in this weather to remember our veterans on Memorial Day,” said Bennett, making note of the gloomy skies overhead.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Bennett reminded those in attendance of the ongoing Scotland County Veterans Garden project, which will include a brick wall with bricks bearing the names of individual veterans and active duty service people.
Those interested in purchasing a brick for inclusion in the soon-t0-be built wall in front of the Post 50 building in Laurinburg were invited to contact Bennett at 610-5204 or by e-mail at ScotlandPost50@yahoo.com.