Home Local News REMEMBERING THE FALLEN: Richmond County veterans honor those lost in military service

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN: Richmond County veterans honor those lost in military service

A cadet carries a wreath from VFW Post 4203 during a Memorial Day service on May 25. See more photos below. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — “Being in the military is a dangerous job, even if no one’s shooting,” Tom Ehlers told the crowd gathered for the annual Memorial Day service at Richmond County Veterans Park.

Ehlers, commander of the N.C. Department of the American Legion, was the guest speaker for the event to remember those killed in service to the country.

The Navy veteran recounted a story of SEALs lost at sea trying to board an unflagged ship in the Arabian Sea.

“The dangers inherent with military service are especially so with the Navy Special Ops,” said Ehlers. “But they exist in every branch and every military occupation.”

More than one million men and women have “made the ultimate sacrifice” while serving in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, according to Ehlers.

“Each story is unique, and each story represents heartbreak to the family and friends left to mourn,” Ehlers said.

Richmond County lost four sons during the Vietnam War. They were honored last year.

Click here to read about the 2023 Memorial Day service.

“As proud Americans, we should all remember that our freedom is not free,” Ehlers said. “It is only possible because of heroes, some from our own families and neighborhood, that paid a high price. It’s that price which enables us to have ceremonies and observances like this in town’s across this great country.”


The roots of Memorial Day date back to a parade in Charleston, South Carolina, following the Civil War in 1865, Ehlers said, adding that the official birthplace of the holiday is considered to be Waterloo, New York, with an observance on May 5, 1866, which led to “Declaration Day” to honor the war dead.

However, the term “Memorial Day” wasn’t used until World War II, which led to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans in both theaters, according to Ehlers.

Following Ehlers’ speech, cadets from the Richmond Senior High School Army JROTC Raider Battalion assisted representatives of the county’s veterans organizations in laying wreaths in the park.

The event concluded with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps by AMVETS Post 316.

Earlier in the service, Musik Blyther sang the national anthem and led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, and local government proclamations were read aloud by Rockingham City Councilwoman Denise Sullivan and County Commissioner Robin Roberts.

Click here to read about the Memorial Day service in Dobbins Heights on May 24.

See more photos below.