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Oxonians celebrate Memorial Day with annual remembrance ceremony

By Megan Feringa

EAGLE Contributor

For some, Memorial Day is an excuse to whip out the barbeque and matching red, white and blue napkins. For others, it’s the first day of summer. For veteran Lt. Col. Ed Gregory, it’s a day of solace and commemoration for those who “fell far from home and (had) no glory in their passing.”

Since 1775, nearly a million and a half men and women in uniform have given their lives for the United States, Gregory said in his speech as guest-speaker at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony held Monday at the National Guard Armory.

“I think I speak for all veterans when I say that we, the living, are uncomfortable when we are thanked for our military service on Memorial Day. Veterans Day is for that,” he said. “We remember today the men who pressed on when those around them fell with grievous wounds until they themselves fell.”

“If we veterans are to be recognized for anything on Memorial Day, let it be that we have, as Gen. Harbord said, taken new courage from our fallen comrades’ great deeds and as the poet (Lt. Col. John McCrae) said, that we still hold the torch high and keep faith with those who sleep a fallen soldier’s rest.”

Hosted by the American Legion, with help from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans, the program began with an opening from Master of Ceremonies Sgt. Dennis Bullard, who acknowledged the day’s dedication to remembering “the men and women who are indisputably heroes.”

Randy Hope of Abbeville Baptist Church followed with an invocation, offering thanksgiving for the lost warriors, prayers for their families and blessings for the veterans and those still in combat. The Oxford Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors and Katie Arnold sang the national anthem.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill, president of the Board of Supervisors Jeff Busby, and State Rep. Jay Hughes welcomed those in attendance and offered their appreciations.

“I’m always humbled to think about Memorial Day and don’t feel qualified to give a welcome because in the end, my soldier came home,” Tannehill said. “There are military spouses who are not so lucky. For these spouses, every single day is Memorial Day. But on this one day every year, you and I have the opportunity to be there for them, to lift them up, to pray for them and remember them because Memorial Day is about remembering.”

The Post 55 Historian Will St. Amand read off the names of 105 veterans who died in Lafayette County since last Memorial Day, honoring them with his own depiction of a veteran.

“In my book, a veteran is one who has signed a blank check,” he said. “The blank check does not have an amount on it because the amount has no limit. … For many, the amount was life itself.”