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Speaker to citizens: Take Memorial Day seriously
Army veteran Kennedy Lee Williams spoke Monday at the 30th Annual Memorial Day Service at Carver Memorial Gardens. Williams told a crowd that people often don’t treat the holiday as seriously as they should. Williams was part of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., while he was in the Army from 1988 to 1992. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Some people don’t take Memorial Day as seriously as they should, Army veteran Kennedy Lee Williams believes.
“It’s ironic to me how one day can have so many different meanings” to different people, said Williams, the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Memorial Day Service on Monday at Carver Memorial Gardens.
For some people, Williams said, Memorial Day is “merely a day off” from work to have fun, relax or have a cookout.
Yet for others, he said, it is a time of grief. Those are the people who have had family members die while in the military, protecting their nation and the freedoms that Americans enjoy, he emphasized.
“Many are still grieving ... crying and remembering” their last moments with lost loved ones — kisses, hugs or meals together, for instance, Williams said.
Memorial Day is not just a time to honor fallen soldiers. The holiday also is intended to honor police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty, Williams noted.
“Let us not forget,” he said, the sacrifices that all of those public servants made for those who live today.
“Greater love may no man have” for other people than to give up his life so that others can live, Williams said, referencing a passage from the Bible.
Williams was part of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., while he was in the Army from 1988 to 1992. As a light infantry paratrooper, he took part in overseas combat twice, and he received various medals and awards.
Today, he is a sales representative for soft drink maker PepsiCo and a co-assistant pastor and elder at Alpha Apostolic Faith Church in Martinsville.
Williams noted that after they leave the military, many people continue to serve others through careers they pursue. Those careers range from public safety and education to the ministry and even hair styling, he said.
Some serve people by representing them on public bodies, such as school boards, he pointed out.
Even if they receive no compensation for their service, they serve because they feel a commitment to help people by serving them, he said.
Williams asked parents in the crowd of about 100 at the Memorial Day Service to teach their children the importance of serving others.
During the service, Constance Martin of the American Legion Homer Dillard Auxiliary Post 78 received a plaque in recognition of her 30 years of service coordinating the annual event.
Williams called Martin “the epitome of (someone) being willing to serve.”
Martin presented a plaque to Williams, recognizing him as having been the guest speaker.
Prisoners of war and soldiers who were declared missing in action also were recognized.
Among other highlights of the service were wreath-laying and flag retrieval ceremonies performed by the Magna Vista High School JROTC Color Guard, a silent reading of the names of deceased local military veterans and youth of Antioch Christian Church leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.