By MATT CRANE
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership Military Affairs Committee held its annual Memorial Day ceremony Monday in front of the Oktibbeha County courthouse.
Commander Robert Green of the United States Navy is co-chair of the Military Affairs Committee and welcomed special guests Mayor Parker Wiseman, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvel Howard, former Lt. Gov. and Mississippi State University vice president Amy Tuck and keynote speaker Col. Matthew C. Isler of the United States Air Force.
Chaplain Bruce Latimer began the ceremony with an invocation followed by the presentation of colors by local Boy Scouts Troop 14.
After a rendition of the National Anthem by Lauren Hughes, Wiseman spoke about the mixed emotions he feels on the holiday.
“Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and the sense of joy and freedom,” Wiseman said. “We must remember the heroic and brave sacrifices of the men and women of this country.”
He said the sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services are the bravest acts he knows. Wiseman stressed the responsibility each community has as the home town of fallen heroes.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that sacrifice is never forgotten,” he said. “We must ensure that a hero from Starkville never dies in vain.”
Howard recognized the collective homage the nation pays to its heroes on Memorial Day.
“We do our best to show our sincere appreciation and gratitude,” Howard said, “but even then we would only scratch the surface of the debt we owe.”
Howard thanked the men and women of the armed forces for their service and dedication.
“Most of all, however, we thank you for your freedom,” he said.
Tuck said she was humbled by the invitation to participate in the day’s event and proud to add MSU’s voice to the tribute of our soldiers.
“We will always be thankful for your service and sacrifice,” Tuck said. “It is because of them we have unprecedented opportunities.”
Tuck said the university was committed to military families citing its Center for American Veterans.
“As we look to the days ahead, we know still that others will be touched by war,” she said. “No words are sufficient to describe our national sense of resolve or collective feeling of thanks.”
Isler remarked on the cost of freedom during his speech.
“Today we pause to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and never came home,” Isler said. “We gather to remember, heal and keep the families and friends of those lost in our prayers.”
Isler spoke about the origins of Memorial Day and commented on the more than 6,000 men and women who have given their lives for the country in the 22 years the United States has been at war.
“We must never forget that freedom is not free,” he said.
Area citizens and veterans were on hand to read aloud the names of the 92 men and women who gave their lives from Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
Members of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars laid wreaths at the courthouse monument while the flag was raised to full mast under the sounds of Mark Hatch playing the traditional military taps.
Green concluded the event with a few remarks and a benediction by Chaplain Latimer. A national moment of silence was recognized at 3 p.m.