Memorial Day is a day of national commitment not to forget those who lost their lives in defense of the country, Rep. Jody Hice told a crowd gathered today at the Oconee Veterans Memorial in Oconee Veterans Park.
Hice thanked those who turned out to honor “those who have given their lives” and their families who have suffered the loss as well.
Included was a Presentation of Colors by the Athens Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and a Roll Call of the 39 fallen in Oconee County since World War I by Oconee County Commissioner Mark Saxon.
David Kilpatrick, a member of the Board of Directors of the Oconee Veterans Memorial Foundation, gave the welcome and introduction.
Grace Holland Givens read the war poem, In Flanders Fields.
Hunter Grayson gave a music performance, as did Alex and Joy Boskoff.
The program ended with a musket salute and taps.
John Gentry, former Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department director and another member of the Board of Directors for the Oconee Veterans Memorial, introduced Rep. Hice.
Hice was the featured speaker, and his remarks took up nearly 10 minutes of the program.
The Republican from Greensboro said Memorial Day is “one of the greatest days in our calendar year as a country.”
“Every life that is lost on the battlefield, every life that is lost, is one that really is in service to a greater cause than the obvious,” Hice said. “Every life that is lost is in serving that great cause of defending the freedoms and the liberties of this great country.”
Hice said America is the greatest country in the world, and the rest of the world owes America a debt because of the contributions of its soldiers.
“Make no mistake,” Hice said, “there is no country in the world that even closely comes to the United States of America. This is head and shoulders above every country in the world.”
“This country is blessed with so many patriots who are willing to step up to the plate and defend this great country and the freedoms that you and I today cherish,” Hice said. “This is America, what we’re honoring today.”
“All American, in fact, every free country on earth, can trace its liberty to those white markers in places like Arlington National Cemetery. Folks, that is it. You look at places like Arlington and you understand right there is what sets this country apart.”
“If there is one thing that I know, and I’ll leave you with this, we are the greatest country in the world,” Hice said. “We are the land of the free because of the brave and what they have done for us.”
The video below is from today’s event.
I didn’t try to capture the full program, but rather I tried to retain key parts in their entirety.
Hice’s comments, which begin at 10:10 in the video, for example, have not been edited.
The singing of the Star Spangled Banner by John Boskoff and the prayer by Rev. Larry Davison similarly are unedited.
Other parts, such as the presentation of the colors, have been shortened, and some of the parts of the program, such as the roll call and the musket salute, have been eliminated entirely in the interest of brevity.
The estimate of the crowd size is a very rough one. Many people were standing outside the covered viewing area and were very difficult to count from my vantage point.