Memorial Day is a time not only to remember past sacrifices, but to think about future ways to serve the nation, a speaker said Sunday during the 65th annual Memorial Day service at Roselawn Burial Park.
“Today is not about myself. It’s not about you. It’s about what we do for the future,” said Lt. Col. William Tracy Carter, an Air Force veteran. “So my goal, and I hope your goal, is to pay back our community.”
Carter, who grew up on Morgan Ford Road in Henry County, is director of the JROTC program at Franklin County High School. He said he has been asked why he wanted to work at a high school after he retired from the Air Force, and his answer was simple: He wanted to help young people the way adults helped him when he was in high school.
He complimented the service of those in the crowd Sunday and urged them to continue serving their communities as a way to remember the sacrifices of those who went before them.
“Go out and make a difference to honor our veterans on this Memorial Day,” Carter said.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, Carter said he was in the Middle East 26 times during his career.
“In the Air Force, I did a lot of great things and served alongside a lot of great people,” he said.
He remembered three of them for making the ultimate sacrifice for their country: a lieutenant commander who flew rescue helicopter missions and died in 1998; a serviceman who died when a mortar struck his tent in Balad, Iraq, in 2004; and Lt. Ryan Betton of Collinsville, who died in 2007 during a naval training exercise off the coast of North Carolina.
All three set examples by making the ultimate sacrifice, Carter said. But they are not the only ones.
“That’s why we’re here today; to remember those folks” who died in service, he said. “As you know, there’s plenty more that I served alongside, that we all served alongside, and there’s going to be plenty more to come.”
Carter said he believes everyone is here for a reason, and that reason is to serve others.
Also during the service, Paul Shively presented a certificate to the family of the late Lester Smith of Horsepasture, a veteran to whom this year’s service was dedicated.