For as long as he can remember, Van McCarty said he has spent Memorial Day with other military veterans at the Lauderdale County Courthouse.
“I’m having a hard time figuring out what I’m going to do on Memorial Day,” said McCarty, who serves on the Lauderdale County Memorial Day planning committee. “We are always at the same time and place … On the day off, you don’t know what to do with it.”
The committee canceled plans for the annual ceremony earlier this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending community members and families of fallen loved ones to find other ways to honor those who made the supreme sacrifice.
McCarty, a Vietnam veteran, plans to stop at the courthouse over the weekend to pay his respects by reading the names on the memorial wall, which lists fallen soldiers from World War II to the present.
“Even though you didn’t know them personally, it personalizes their stories,” McCarty said.
“We always read the names on the wall,” said Ken Storms, who also serves on the committee and served in Vietnam. “If we keep their names alive, then their time on earth has meaning and value.”
“They were real people, kids,” Storms emphasized. “They paid the absolute price to defend us and for that, we need to salute them.”
McCarty also recommended placing a flag on a veteran’s grave, and urged people to read the poem "In Flanders Fields.” Another idea is to reflect on the signifigance of the "Buddy" poppy, which is synonymous with Memorial Day.
There are other ways to honor those who died serving their country, Storms said.People can visit websites such as vmf.org and fold3.com, and names are listed in a chart at www.115marinereunion.com/Lauderdale_County.doc.