“Showing honor to those that left before us:” Veterans discuss the meaning of Memorial Day

“Showing honor to those that left before us:” Veterans discuss the meaning of Memorial Day
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear region’s extensive military history means thousands of U.S. veterans and their families live along the North Carolina coast, especially in Wilmington.

The New Hanover County Veterans Council welcomed hundreds of people to Wilmington National Ceremony for its annual Memorial Day Ceremony Monday as veterans and local leaders shared stories of what the holiday means to them.

The keynote speaker at Monday’s ceremony was Coast Guard Veteran Frank Roberts. For him, the ceremony is tradition.

“I’ve been coming out here for 30 years and it means a lot because I’ve had people who have put a sense of honor in me,” Roberts said. “And that honor shows in coming here and honoring, again, our veterans who have passed away, but also to continue to honor the million-plus veterans who died in the service of their country.”

Roberts makes sure to keep his calendar open to attend the ceremony each year, but says that was not the norm before his service in the early 90′s.

“Probably going back 40 to 50 years, even though I had Memorial Day, I probably saw it more as a long weekend, more as something to [enjoy] with barbecues and things of that nature,” Roberts said.

Roberts says his military service gave him a new outlook and a new understanding of what Memorial Day means to him.

“I started seeing that there was far more,” said Roberts. “That we needed to provide honor to those who came before us, and we need to remember those who came before us. We need to remember their sacrifices and pay tribute to them.”

A tribute that includes reading the names of each local veteran who died over the last year. The American Legion Post 10 Honor Guard also presented a rifle salute at Monday’s ceremony.

“They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “All the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.”

Roberts hopes Memorial Day encourages everyone to think about what Memorial Day means to them.

“It’s all just a great thing,’ Roberts said. “And it’s just a matter of showing honor to those that left before us.”

To learn more about Veteran Services in New Hanover County, click here.

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