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Avery County Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor and Remember Its Perished Veterans

On Monday, May 31, Avery County held its annual Memorial Day celebration to remember and honor its natives who perished while fighting for our nation.  

The ceremony was held on the Avery County/Newland Town Square which features its veterans’ monument with names of all county natives who served during a military conflict and in which war.  The county/town square also highlights Armed Forces flags displays and gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ten Commandments monuments. 

Avery County’s Memorial Day Ceremony is organized and conducted every year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary, Pat Ray Post 4286, in Newland.  Approximately 150attended this year’s event.

The 2021 ceremony began with an invocation from Reverend Larry Dale Stamey, a veteran of the US Army who served during the Vietnam Conflict. 

A Posting of Colors by the Avery High School JROTC was also presented during the ceremony and the National Anthem was sung by Avery High Chorus teacher Tara Andrews and Stephanie Watson. 

The ceremony’s opening remarks were given by Retired United States Army Sergeant Kevin Holden, Newland VFW District 15 and Post 4286-Newland Commander and Editor of the North Carolina Veterans of Foreign Wars Leader Magazine.  

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was North Carolina State House Representative Dudley Greene, a Newland native. Greene represents NC District 85, which includes Avery County.  Greene commented:“As we remember our fallen servicemen and servicewomen, our hearts are filled with thanks for their bravery and the ultimate sacrifice they made on ours and all of our fellow-Americans behalf.

“As a father of a deployed veteran and the son and son-in-law of American military veterans, I well know the tremendous service military personnel provide for our nation.  And those who lost their lives fighting are due the greatest of respect and admiration from all of us as they helped ensure we have the freedom we enjoy. More than 1.1 million military veterans have died fighting for our nation and we owe every one of them more than we could ever repay.  We honor their memory as they are responsible for the keeping of our republic.”

Other state, regional and Avery County officials and dignitaries attending were also recognized during the ceremony. 

The Presentation of Wreaths honoring the county’ s departed comrades was presented by Honor Guard Captain Bill Dean for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Chapter Commander Zeb White for Disabled American Veterans.

A Rifle Salute was conducted by the Pat Ray Post 4286 Honor Guard. “Echo Taps,” was played by two youth trumpeters, Ryan Clark and Mercer Ledford.  Clark and Ledford are also members of the Land Harbor Community Band. 

Other patriotic Music was supplied by Dee Raby and the Land Harbor Community Band.

Reverend Stamey provided the Benediction and the Retrieving of Colors was conducted by the Avery High JROTC. Director Major Randy Matney and Sergeant-Major Jason Coleman.

Phillip Greene of WECR Radio Station in Newland emceed the ceremony.

“Every Memorial Day ceremony we have held has been special and with a distinction all their own.  But this year’s truly was one of the greatest ever,” declared Holden.  “The weather was perfect and we had no restrictions because of coronavirus.  All those who were featured in our program did awesome jobs and Representative Greene gave an excellent speech. Everyone who attended was enthusiastic and I’m thankful for, and grateful to, all who participated.”

The VFW Post 4286 Honor Guard includes: Honor Guard Commander Bill Dean, US Army, Retired; Honor Guard Chaplain Larry Dale Stamey, US Army; Lieutenant Colonel Bo Barinowski, US Army, Retired; Sergeant Major Danny Barnett , US Army, Retired; Chris Bertolini, US Marine Corps;  Captain Eric Bechard, US Army, Retired; Robert Braswell, US Army and US Air Force;  Keith Cashion, US Marine Corps; Will Christianson, US Marine Corps; Bob Church, US Navy; Troy Clark, US Army; Brook Dean, US Army;  Jesse Downing, US Army Retired; Mitchell Durham, US Army; Dean Franklin, US Army, Retired; Captain Dean Harris, US Navy, Retired; Kevin Holden, US Army, Retired; Jim Love, US Marine Corps; John Millan, US Army, Retired and US Marine Corps;  Oliver Nyberg, US Air Force; Jeff Pollard, US Army;  Sergeant Major Anthony Pollygus, US Army, Retired; and Sergeant Bryon Towler, US Army Retired.

Honor Guard Emeritus Members include: Air Force Colonel Sam Ray; Corporal Jack Trivett, US Army; Specialist Wayne Holden, US Army; and Specialist Bob Mason, US Army. 

Photos Courtesy of Ann Wilson Castro.