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Memorial Day observance recalls ultimate sacrifice of local service men, women

Former state Rep. Jodie Haydon was keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day observance at the Bardstown Cemetery. Click to enlarge.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette/ WBRT Radio

Monday, May 28, 2018 — Military veterans and families and friends of veterans returned Monday to the Bardstown Cemetery to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Monday’s observance was the 31st annual event since it began in 1987.

Bardstown Fire Chief Billy Mattingly, left, and members of the Bardstown Fire Department. Click to enlarge.

Visitors were greeted by bright sunshine and a light breeze that wafted through the trees that tower around the old gazebo. Patriotic music played immediately prior to the start of the observance set the mood.

U.S. Air Force veteran Kenny Fogle once again served as emcee of the event, a duty he has performed since the 2003 death of Roy Brooks, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy who served as emcee since the local observance was launched in 1987.

The keynote speaker was former 50th District state Rep. Jodie Haydon told the crowed that the significance of Memorial Day should be remembered everyday, not just one weekend each May.

“On this day, I tend to think more about those who were left behind,” he said. “What a terrible void to live with — to lose a provider, a husband, a wife, a brother or sister. Whatever the case might be, lets remember those left behind today.”

Haydon said he wondered what the veterans who gave their lives in service of their country would think about the state of the country today.

“What would they say about the wars and skirmishes we find ourselves in today? What would they think about the shootings we see in our schools, churches and public places? Would they wonder ‘Is that what we fought and died for?’ ”

Two veterans chat briefly prior to the start of Monday’s Memorial Day observance. Click to enlarge.

Haydon said he wondered what those veterans would say about last week’s primary election, and the low voter turnout.

Haydon served in Vietnam in 1968, a war that the U.S. lost approximately 59,000 soldiers — nearly half of those died after Haydon’s service in Vietnam.

He said his biggest regret in his life was not protesting the Vietnam War after he returned from his tour of duty.

“I didn’t protest because I didn’t have the courage I thought people would think I was crazy,” he said.

Haydon said he realized early on during his military service that the U.S. was in a war it could not win. “You didn’t have to be very sharp to realize that,” he said.

“Had I the courage to protest way back then, maybe we could have ended that war sooner, thus saving many, many lives. My point is this: Have an opinion, stand up for what you believe is right — not what some talking head on TV says, or what some political party says.

Jared Gant, a member of the Bardstown Fire Department, waits with emcee Kenny Fogle to conduct the flag ceremony marking the end of Monday’s Memorial Day observance. Click to enlarge.

“We can’t afford to just stand by and let things happen.

“The soldiers we remember today died for our freedom — our freedom of speech,” he said. “Let’s make them proud. After all, the brave men and women who serve our country today are counting on us.”

Part of the annual event includes the laying of a wreath in honor of the departed veterans by the representatives of the three local American Legion Posts — Posts 42, 121 and 167. And as in years past, Russ Marlowe read the Memorial Day message from the National American Legion.

To close the event, Jared Gant — a member of the Bardstown Fire Department — lowered the flag from half-staff and raised it during the flag ceremony that ended the observance.

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