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Those who gave all remembered during tribute

By Dawn Burleigh

Despite the threat of bad weather and unprecedented regulations due to the COBID-19 Crisis, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice upon the battlefield were remembered on Sunday during the annual Tribute to Orange County Veterans at the Heritage Veterans Memorial located at 3810 M.L. King Drive in Orange.

So the event could be seen outside by the monument, it was filmed earlier in the day, which led to some delays in the start of the ‘live’ event, but it was online for all to see.

The National Anthem was sung by Anna Claire McKenzie as the Southeast Texas Veterans Group stood at attention as Color Guard. Some with masks and some without but honoring those who had fallen with dignity.

City of Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr. spoke of the sacrifice.

“It is definitely an honor to be here,” Spears said. “Thank you to all veterans and to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. God bless each of you.”

His speech was followed by Reverend Brad McKenzie speaking on the significance of Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, finds its beginnings in 1868 as a way for people honor the dead from the Civil War and adorn graves to remember those soldiers who had been lost in battle.  For a nation still recovering and reeling from a war between brothers and struggling to rebuild and restart, there was a unification in honoring the dead who had giving their lives fighting for others,” McKenzie said. “New wars would come about, and more lost soldiers would be added to the list of those to be memorialized.  It was not until 1971 that the observance became an officially recognized Federal holiday and was placed on the last Monday of May, even as the nation was still battling in the Vietnam War.”

McKenzie noted it has been 49 years from Federal recognition and 152 years since the tradition began.

“It will come a day when we will all be gone from this place and someone will remember us,” McKenzie said. “The observance of Mem. Day is more important than ever has been in our nation’s history.  If we do not remember there is a cost to freedom, we will no longer value freedom and we will easily take for granted this great gift.”

Keeping with tradition, a bell was rung as the name of a person killed in action was read. For the final name, a person still missing in action, the bell stayed silent and will remain so until he is returned home.

The Southeast Texas Veterans Group then gave a 21-gun salute to honor the fallen.

The event ended with Hunter playing Taps.

To place a veteran’s name in granite the cost is $40. Memorial messages may be added to bricks: 3-Line Bricks: $100; 4-Line Bricks: $125. For more information contact Mike Bell at (409) 460-3567 or michael.jay.bell@gmail.com

The full video can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/orangenazchurch/videos/195596134862909/