5/29/12 Thanking Our Soldiers

THANKING OUR SOLDIERS
By Roselee Papandrea, The Times-News 5/29/12     
Reprinted with permission.

Members of the Western Alamance High School Band, from left, Joey Bell and Ty Parker, play baritone saxophone Monday during the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
Photo by Sam Roberts / Times-News
Members of the Western Alamance High School Band, from left, Joey Bell and Ty Parker, play baritone saxophone Monday during the annual Memorial Day ceremony.

  GRAHAM — The bell tolled 303 times Monday morning as each one of the names of the Alamance County military veterans who died since last Memorial Day were read aloud.

   “Three hundred three is the most we’ve ever had since we started doing the program,” said Don Bolden, Times-News editor emeritus and master of ceremony of the Memorial Day program held at the Alamance County War Memorial in downtown Graham.

   “It’s also the first time we had a father and son honored at the same time,” said Bolden, referencing Navy veterans Tom Woody, who died in March, and his son, Andrew Woody, who died last July.    Marine Pvt. Anthony Romano-Caruso’s name was one of the last Alamance County veterans added to the list this year. Romano-Caruso, who was in Defense Information School at Fort George G. Meade, Md., was found dead in his barracks last Wednesday. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating his death. Romano-Caruso, of Burlington, was 19.

   Many people gathered in the area around the War Memorial for the ceremony. Some were dressed in red, white and blue. Each one had a small American flag given to them by either a member of a Boy Scout troop or an American Legion Post.

   The Western Alamance High School band played throughout, including a medley of military songs. Bolden asked for veterans and family members of veterans to stand and be applauded when the hymn representing their branch of the service was played.Wounded and disabled veterans also were honored.

   Bolden told the story behind the War Memorial and the effort to get it built. A Memorial Day program has been held at the site since 1996.

   “The people of Alamance County gave us the money for this memorial,” he said.“More than 600 names from eight different wars and conflicts are on the wall. … Today, we are here to not only honor the names on the wall, but others who have died this year who have served this country.”

   In his invocation, the Rev. Donald R. Carter asked God to remember those who have given their service to this country.

   “We cannot go to all the cemeteries here and on foreign soil to say thank you,” he prayed aloud. “With our deepest gratitude, we say thank you. We will meet you on the other side.”

   In his benediction, the Rev. David Carter, thanked veterans for their sacrifice.    “As it’s been said many times before, may we never, never, never forget,” he said.

   It’s been 45 years since Nancy Jenkins, of Burlington, was notified that her 20-year-old son, Gregory Dale Jenkins, was killed in the Vietnam War.

   “I miss him every day,” Nancy Jenkins said after the ceremony, which she attends as often as possible.

   This year, she brought her great-granddaughter, Chloe, and showed the little girl where her great-uncle’s name is etched in the wall. Jenkins said that seeing his name and attending the Memorial Day service is always sad, but it comforts her, too.

   “At least I know that somebody is remembering him,” she said.