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Boone Mall Hosted 11th Annual Memorial Day Program on Monday, HCCMOAA Sponsors

By Jesse Wood

The High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America sponsored its 11th annual Memorial Day program at the Boone Mall on Monday, May 29. 

The event included remarks from HCCMOAA President Capt. Fred Schmitt, USCG (Ret); an invocation from Rev. Ted Henry; music from the Watauga Community Band; a U.S. flag folding ceremony by American Legion Post 130 members; and the posting and retiring of colors by Watauga High School MCJROTC. 

Dignitaries present included District Court Judge Becca Eggers-Gryder, Boone Town Council Member Lynne Mason, District Attorney Seth Banks, N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, Boone Town Manager John Ward, Watauga County Board of Commissioners Jimmy Hodges and Watauga Sheriff Len Hagaman. 

“Today is one of those days that is too often overlooked – three-day holiday, Monday and so forth – but I know you all are here because we do pause to remember and take a break from our normal routine to commemorate and honor Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in uniform in defense of the United States,” Schmitt said. 

Schmitt gave a brief history of Memorial Day, which essentially started out as Decoration Day to honor those that died during the Civil War in the 1860s. In 1971, Memorial Day (on the fourth Monday in May) became a national holiday of remembrance and commemoration for the U.S. soldiers that died during all military conflicts. 

“Since the Revolutionary War to present time – and this is an exact number that’s unfortunately still increasing – 1,354,664 American lives have been lost in the defense of our country,” Schmitt said. 

In addition during the program, the service theme songs were played and veterans were asked to stand up during their service’s song. Also, veterans who served in the various conflicts since World War II were also asked to stand. 

While the drawings of the three finalists in the Watauga County Veterans Memorial design contest weren’t ready in time for the Memorial Day program, Schmitt said that maquettes, which are small scale models, of the proposed sculptures will be on display at the Jones House during the Fourth of July events in downtown Boone. The artists are also expected to be available to talk about their design and answer any questions to members of the community. 

The three finalists are “Time and Honor;” Clint Button’s: “Boone Veterans Memorial Courtyard;” and Wesley Wofford’s: “Marching Out of History to Forge the Future.”

The project is a collaboration between the Town of Boone, Watauga County and the High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America. The memorial will be located in downtown Boone next to Town Hall. 

“We are excited,” Lindsey Miller of the Turchin Center for the Arts and a member of the design contest sub-committee for the Watauga County Veterans Memorial project, told High Country Press earlier this month. “Any one of the top three sculptures that were selected would be a wonderful fit for the town.”

The project has a $250,000 fundraising goal. The HCCMOAA started things off with $10,000. Watauga County donated $25,000, and the Town of Boone donated the downtown site and will provide preliminary site preparation and future maintenance and insurance.

Donations are still needed and can be made online at www.hccmoaa.com or mailed to:

Watauga County Veterans Memorial Fund

c/o High Country MOAA

P.O. Box 3312

Boone, NC 28607

The groundbreaking for the installation of the sculpture is scheduled to commence in 2018. The project will be finished by the summer of ’18.

For more information, click to www.hccmoaa.com or read about the feature in the April/May 2017 issue of High Country Magazine, which is on newsstands now. 

Bill Winkler directs the Watauga Community Band at the Memorial Day program in the Boone Mall. Photos by Jesse Wood

Steve Frank directs the Watauga Community Band during the Memorial Day program at the Boone Mall. 

The Watauga High School MCJROTC posts the colors. 

Some of the dignitaries include District Court Judge Becca Eggers-Gryder (second from right), Boone Town Council’s Lynne Mason (third from right) and District Attorney Seth Banks (fifth from right) and the following (not pictured) N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, Boone Town Manager John Ward, Watauga County Board of Commissioners Jimmy Hodges and Watauga Sheriff Len Hagaman. 

The Boone Mall was packed once again for Memorial Day in 2017. 

Watauga Community Band

A few vets take in the programming at the Boone Mall. 

Veterans in the U.S. Marine Corps acknowledged. 

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force in rare company at the program. 

Veterans of the U.S. Army. 

Stacy Eggers Jr. (center) served during World War II. 

Rev. Ted Henry gives the invocation at the Boone Mall programming. 

Members of the American Legion Post 130 conducts the U.S. flag folding ceremony. 

The Watauga High School MCJROTC conducts the retiring of the colors. 

The Watauga High School MCJROTC conducts the retiring of the colors. 

Watauga High School MCJROTC member Noah Pearson stands with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx after the ceremony.