“Memorial day is a time to take stock of the present, reflect on the past and renew our commitment to the future of America.”
Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan in a 1983 speech and quoted by Superior Court Judge Quillian Baldwin in Monday’s Memorial Day Service hosted at Restlawn Memory Gardens and sponsored by the West Georgia Veterans Council.
Dozens of servicemen, veterans and supporters came to the service in honor of all the men and women who have laid down their lives for the liberty and protection of others.
Baldwin was chosen as this year’s guest speaker and spoke about the honor of being in the Army and the courage of the men he served with, as well as the bonds forged during those years.
“My time in the service wasn’t as extensive and as dangerous as what some of you went through, [but] it was an important milestone in my life and something I’m proud of,” he said.
“They made us feel like we were the greatest men to ever live,” he added.
The service included the laying of the wreath in honor of Hogansville resident Sgt. Hammett Bowen, who sacrificed his life in Vietnam by throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of his platoon. Bowen also received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“He probably didn’t have but that long to think, and may not have even thought. He may have just did it,” Veteran Council Chairman John West said.
As they laid the wreath, they read “Rest East my Brother” in honor of Bowen’s unwavering bravery.
Veteran Anthony Bostic, who served in the Navy, came out to show his support for his fellow servicemen.
“They put their life into this. A lot of them die for this, for the little freedom we do have,” Bostic said. “I’m honored to come out and serve and proud of those who went before me.”
Baldwin reflected on the the Gettysburg address and said the gist of the speech was to stress that nothing can be done that would adequately honor those those who have fallen in honor of their country.
“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch or read the news we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world,” Baldwin said. “As a tribute to that sacrifice, let us renew our resolve to remain strong enough to deter aggression, wise enough to preserve and protect our freedom, and thoughtful enough to promote the lasting peace throughout the world.”