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  • Writer's pictureKendra DeKay

Honoring Our Heroes on Memorial Day in Aiken, SC

On Memorial Day we pause to remember and honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation.

Their courage and dedication have shaped the foundation of our country, and we are forever grateful.

Attending my uncle Ed's service and the military funeral last fall gave me a new insight into the culture of honoring veterans. As a civilian without active service members in my immediate family, I hadn't had the lived experience of how keenly the passing of every veteran is felt within the service community.

My uncle served in Vietnam, returned safely, and lived out his life beloved by his family and friends, serving in the police force for many years in Olympia, Washington.

His death last year was many years after his military service, following a full life. And still, the military Chaplin performing the service (who did not know Ed personally, and was performing many such "routine" services that day for families), was moved to tears during the course of delivering the scripted service. His emotion had a profound impact on the way I understand the armed service community from my removed position as a civilian.

While I realize that Memorial Day is specifically for honoring those who died while in service, this experience helped me understand in some small way more than just my family's personal loss, but also for the first time a "real" glimpse of how deep and devastating and real the loss of a serving member of the military must be for their loved ones.

Memorial Day in Aiken, SC

Horse statue 9-11 horse statue in Aiken SC
Statue Commemorating September 11, 2001 in Aiken

Aiken has a lovely tradition of a Memorial Day Parade, which begins tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 am.

Every May, the city raises banners downtown featuring photos of local veterans and honoring them by name. I won't be able to attend the parade this year, but I spent an evening last week walking downtown and taking time to notice and appreciate each banner, and think about the service men and women represented by each one.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend, and also some time for reflection on the true meaning of the holiday if your family–like mine– is fortunate to not be touched by close losses.

To all the fallen heroes and their families, a profound thank you.

Information on Aiken's Memorial Day parade here:

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