By Benjamin Cohn
Leicester – In remembrance of the sacrifices area veterans made for their God and for their country, Sandy Mush 4H Club hosted a Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday afternoonin the Leicester Community Center on New Leicester Highway.
The afternoon’s event consisted of an introduction by local 4H leader Jackie Gillespie, followed by the presentation of colors ceremony performed by the cadets of the Asheville Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. The service was to recognize the presence of the community center’s memorial wall, listing the names and information about military veterans from as far back as the Civil War.
Gillespie thanked those who attended Sunday’s event for “coming out and supporting this memorial wall and what it means,” and for “supporting these 4H kids and what we do. We hope you’ll enjoy [it].”
Four teenaged cadets representing the Civil Air Patrol performed a traditional pledge of allegiance ceremony and marched off. The cadets then performed a symbolic empty table for one set prominently before those gathered.
One of the cadets from the Civil Air Patrol described the meaning of the table, saying that the table was to “honor our missing loved ones or missing comrades in arms. The empty place represents Americans, our men and women, still missing from each of the five services … and civilians. This honors ceremony symbolizes that they are with us here in spirit.
“Some in this room were very young when they went into combat. However, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call to serve and served the cause of freedom in a special way.”
Local military veteran David Trull gave, in acrostic form, a discourse discussing what he views as the components of an American soldier and musician Garrett Fox performed two country songs whose themes addressed the sacrifices necessary in military service.
Said Trull, “I thank each one of you that’s come to remember a loved one that’s given the ultimate sacrifice, for these young men here and their dedication.
“There’s been a lot of men and women, a lot of dads, moms, daughters and sons who have given the ultimate sacrifice. It’s so easy to forget.” Trull then described what he considers a soldier as one making sacrifices, caring for others and excelling at their duties.
Regional 4H leaders Jordan McAninch and Jackie Gillespie then gave statements addressing many of the local veterans whose memories are preserved in the form of their permanent home within the community center.
McAninch described one of the veterans. “Thomas J. Netherton[‘s] … rank was Private. He enlisted in Company C in North Carolina, 29th infantry regiment on the 6th of August of 1861, she said. “He was promoted to full sergeant on May 2nd in 1862. He mustered out on July 20th, 1863 … in Mississippi.”
Gillespie then briefly recited the military history of Leicester Army veteran Troy Penland.
“Troy Deward Penland was a Corporal in the U.S. Army. He was killed in action while fighting the enemy [in] North Korea. His remains were not recovered. Troy was born July 30th, 1924 and was declared dead on November 29th, 1950.
“For his leadership and valor, Corporal Penland was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.”
The pair read prepared notes about 12 or so veterans before Trull took the floor once more to say a prayer honoring America’s military veterans. Light refreshments were served.