By Tim Gardner
On Monday, May 31, Avery County will hold its annual Memorial Day celebration between its veteran’s monument and gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ten Commandments monuments on the County of Avery Square in downtown Newland. The ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. and honors Avery County natives or residents who perished while fighting for our great nation in a military battle.
It is organized and conducted by the Newland Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary-Pat Ray Post 4286, Disabled American Veterans and the County of Avery.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday was held on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. The holiday has since been observed every year on the last Monday of May. It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day (first Monday in September) marks its end.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many decorate graves and place an American flag on each grave—especially in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day – Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, whereas Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
The 2021 Avery County Memorial Day program will start with an invocation from Reverend Larry Dale Stamey, a United States Army veteran who served during the Vietnam Conflict.
Posting of Colors will be conducted by the Avery High School JROTC, followed by the National Anthem sang by Tara Andrews, Avery High School Chorus teacher.
The program’s opening remarks will be made 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 will be North Carolina State House Representative Dudley Greene, a Newland native. Greene represents NC District 85, which includes Avery County.
Other patriotic Music will be supplied by Dee Raby and the Land Harbor Community Band.
The Presentation of Wreaths honoring the county’ s departed comrades will be conducted by Honor Guard Captain Bill Dean for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Chapter Commander Zeb White for Disabled American Veterans.
The ensuing Rifle Salute will be conducted by the Pat Ray Post 4286 Honor Guard, followed by “Echo Taps,” by two youth trumpeters, Ryan Clark and Mercer Ledford. Clark and Ledford are also members of the Land Harbor Community Band.
Reverend Stamey will then provide the Benediction ahead of the Retrieving of Colors by the Avery High JROTC to conclude the program.
Other state, regional and Avery County officials and dignitaries attending will also be recognized.
Host for the ceremonies will be WECR Radio (Newland) personality Phillip Greene.
Avery County residents and any others desiring to attend the ceremony are encouraged to do so. All attending are asked to bring their own lawn chairs and umbrellas (in case of rain) and practice all coronavirus (COVID-19) mandates in place at the time of the ceremony.