As the names of hundreds of brave soldiers who called Sampson County home were called, veterans placed red and white roses at the Rufus G. Herring monument at Veterans Park Monday morning.
For Memorial Day, community members paid homage to men and women who died in active military service. The observance was hosted by the Sampson County Veterans Council and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). During the ceremony, soldiers from all wars dating back to the Revolutionary War and World World War II to those currently serving were honored during the event.
“Without each of you, we wouldn’t have the country that we have today,” said Ann Knowles, Sampson Count Veterans Service Officer, to veterans present. “We thank you for coming and sharing with us on this Memorial Day.”
Attendants also listened to Holocaust survivor Abe Piasek tell his story, which took place during war-torn Europe. He was just 12 years old when he was captured by Nazi troops and placed into forced labor camps. Piasek was a prisoner for five years and witnessed atrocities during the war. During that time, he was able to stay alive by relying on his instincts and faith. In 1947, the Poland native moved to the United States and found a job working at a bakery and had success in the industry.
“A lot of people still today don’t believe that the Holocaust happened,” Piasek said, detailing his struggles in four concentration camps. “Well I’m one of them, so you can see it. I thank God that I survived all of those things.”
As he told his story story of survival, he talked about how he received refuge and help from American Red Cross officials and American soldiers. Many years later, he married and had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Raleigh native is now sharing his story.
Along with the Veterans Council, some of the other participants included the VFW 7547 Color Guard; Boy Scout Troop 133; Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 7547; and the Sonny Faison family. The National Anthem was performed by Jane Brewer and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Robert Brown, president of the Sampson County Veterans Council. Taps was performed by Willie Moore of VFW Post 7547. Brown and Alvin Herring, vice president of the Sampson County Veterans Council, laid a wreath at the memorial.
The opening prayer was conducted by James Britt, chaplain of the Veterans Council. During a closing prayer, retired Army Maj. Randy Moore thanked those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and referenced John 15:13 from the Bible: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“Father, these our are friends, our brothers, our sisters and our comrades-in-arms…,” Moore said. “Father may we never forget this nation and all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice from the beginning.”
Knowles echoed words spoken by the veterans during the ceremony.
“I know we all could be at a beach or a lake or at Belk, becuase I know that Belk’s got a sale on,” she said in reference to leisure activities such as enjoying the outdoors or shopping. “But you chose to be here. We chose to be here to honor Memorial Day for what it is. And we thank you.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.