By Tim Gardner
On May 27 Avery County held its annual Memorial Day celebration to remember and honor its natives or residents who perished while fighting for our nation. The ceremony was held on the Newland Town Square its veterans monument, 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 250 attended this year’s event, including various Avery County government officials.
This year’s program began with an invocation from Reverend Larry Dale Stamey, a veteran of the US Army who served during the Vietnam Conflict.
Next was a Posting of Colors by the Avery High School JROTC, followed by the National Anthem sung by county resident Tara Andrews and Avery High School Chorus. Other patriotic Music during the ceremony was supplied by Dee Raby and the Avery High School Band.
The program’s opening remarks were made by Kevin Holden, Newland VFW Post and NC VFW District 15 Commander and a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Virginia Foxx, U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 5th congressional district, which encompasses much of the northwestern portion of the state (including Avery County) and a section of Winston-Salem. Foxx commented: “As we remember our fallen servicemen and servicewomen, our hearts are filled with thanks for their tremendous courage and bravery and the topmost and consummate sacrifice they made on ours and all of our fellow-Americans behalf.”
Michael Hardy, a local and regional historian and author, was the ceremony’s guest speaker. Also, Rebecca Eggers-Gryder, a District Court Judge from the North Carolina 24th Judicial District, made a special guest appearance at the ceremony.
The Presentation of Wreaths honoring the county’s departed comrades was conducted by: Colonel Bob Barinowski for Veterans of Foreign Wars; Commander Zeb White for Disabled American Veterans; and Nancy Morrison for the Crossnore Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
The ensuing Rifle Salute was done by the Pat Ray Post 4286 Honor Guard, followed by “Taps,” played by Chris Bertolini of the US Marine Corps. Then Reverend Stamey provided the Benediction ahead of the Retrieving of Colors by the Avery High JROTC to conclude the program.
Phillip Greene of WECR Radio Station in Newland emceed the ceremony.
“All of our Memorial Day ceremonies have been special, but this year’s was one of the best ever,” proclaimed Holden.
The VFW Post 4286 Honor Guard includes: Honor Guard Commander- Bill Dean, US Army, Retired; Honor Guard Chaplain- Fred Stout, US Army; Honor Guard Chaplain Larry Dale Stamey, US Army; Lt. 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; Larry DeSenville, 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; Harry Putnam, US Navy; and Jack Trivett, US Army.
Honor Guard Emeritus Members include: Air Force Colonel Sam Ray, Ralph Holden, Wayne Holden and Bob Mason.