Memorial Day events provide real life history lesson

May. 23, 2013 @ 05:20 PM

Sure, they’re giving away 6,000 hot dogs.
But that’s not why Memorial Day event organizers in Thomasville want residents to attend this weekend’s celebrations.
“It doesn’t cost anything. Just come and enjoy it and talk to a hero,” said Joe Leonard, who runs the Thomasville parade and related events. “I don’t know that you can walk in any classroom and get a better history lesson.”
The 26th annual N.C. Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony, the largest such celebration in the state, will take place in Thomasville throughout the weekend.
The celebration will culminate 11 a.m. Monday with a parade from Downtown Thomasville to Cushwa Stadium, where there will be a ceremony ending in a parachute jump that will display a super-sized American flag.
“One of the things we do that we can’t find anyone else who does it is honor the families of those who have lost their lives,” Leonard said. These families will be presented with plaques during Monday’s ceremony.
Leonard said continuing the traditions of the holiday reminds younger generations of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women.
“We’ve got generations that do not know what price has been paid for American freedom,” he said.
Each of the events will continue as scheduled no matter the weather. Leonard said this is in true military fashion.
“All of these soldiers who are in the trenches, they stand their guard,” he said.
For the first time this year, organizers are asking attendees to bring canned food to be delivered to local food pantries. Donations can be brought to any event, including Sunday’s dinner at Hillside Park Baptist Church and concert at Finch Auditorium by the 82nd Airbourne Division Band of Fort Bragg.
For a full schedule, visit the “NC Memorial Day Parade & Celebration” Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the High Point Veterans Memorial Service will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Veterans Memorial at S. Main Street and High Avenue.
This year, the High Point City Council will unveil a plaque to pay tribute to African-Americans who served during World War II, as they were never recognized when they came home from the war.
“It’s time to recognize these individuals and give honor where honor is due,” said event organizer Nick Ruden.
The event also will feature a performance by bagpipe player Johnny Burris and a speech by John Byrnes of Concerned Veterans for America. Following the service, attendees are invited to a barbecue at the train depot across the street.
Ruden said he started the service 10 years ago because he believes it’s important to recognize servicemen and women, especially those who have given their lives.
“Without their sacrifice, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
More than 770,000 veterans live in North Carolina. Guilford County ranks among the top five veteran populations in the state.
For questions about the High Point service, call Nick Ruden at (336) 870-3993.