- Last Updated on 09:13 AM 05/29/12
- BY Paula I. Bryant
Raymond Shelton, a 97-year-old WWII veteran who served in the 92nd Infantry Division, and Pete Myers of South Boston’s own Company F 116th Infantry of 29th Division, were among the 100 guests attending Monday’s Memorial Day service sponsored by the John M. Jordan Camp #581 Sons of Confederate Veterans at the War Memorial in Halifax.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Robert Woodfin who served as a Navy chaplain and retired from the Naval Reserves as a commander in 1995. He is currently semi-retired and serves as a the pastor of Glenwood-Olive Branch United Methodist Charge after having served United Methodist churches in Virginia for 25 years.
Looking at the names engraved on the War Memorial behind him, Woodfin said of America’s 237-year history, “56 of those years we have been at war and still counting because we are still not out of Afghanistan.”
“What was the call that was greater than themselves…the call that was great enough to cause these men whose names are engraved on the War Memorial to leave their family, friends and loved ones behind?”
He offered personal testimony of his time serving with Marines in Okinawa, Japan in 1983 when he had to return home from war on two occasions within a 60-day span to attend the funerals of his brother and father.
Calling all those who have served in the military “his friend,” Woodfin said he didn’t know of anyone who really wants to go to war and asked the rhetorical question, “So why do they go?
“I submit to you today, that cause was God and country. We believe in the United States of America, we believe in the words on our dollar bill that say ‘In God We Trust.’ We believe when we cross our hands and pledge allegiance to the flag that it is ‘One God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.’ We believe indeed that God led people to form the United States of America.”
Reading from Psalms, Woodfin said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
“We have inherited one of the greatest nations in the world, and as long as we continue to pray for this nation, no one can overcome the nation that is on its knees in prayer,” he told those in attendance.
“Saying no to God is the wrong answer. Saying yes to God and to this great country and never forgetting what these people served for and what future generations will serve for is the reason we have such freedoms. Because men and women were willing to sacrifice and give their all and close their eyes in death on the battlefields and ships so that you and I and our families can continue to have the most precious word of all, it’s called freedom,” Woodfin concluded.
During the 45-minute long program Monday morning after the posting of the colors, Bill Crews, Cmdr., S.V.C., Camp 581, introduced the organizations and special guests present, and Grace Elliott of the Virginia Daughters of the Confederacy, Chapter 1321, read a patriotic poem.
Allen Anderson sang the National Anthem, and Ricky Gordon sang “My Country Tis of Thee,” “God Bless America,” and Trace Adkins’ “Arlington.”
Doug Powell, a member of the War Memorial Park oversight committee and member of the Society of the War of 1812, also recognized those veterans from Halifax County who died in what he described as “that often forgotten war.”
Veterans groups were recognized and presented their memorial floral tributes including Bernard Baker of the Sons of the American Revolution, Cary Ford of Tri-Rivers Vietnam War Veterans, Roy Jacobs of American Legion Post 8, Odie Lewis of VFW Post 8243, Mac Gentry of the John M. Jordan Camp #581 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Carolyn Lewis of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Helen Gregory of the Halifax County United Daughters of the Confederacy, Earl Krantz of the POW/MIA Rolling Thunder organization and Jane Confroy of the Berryman Green Daughters of the American Revolution.
The program concluded with a rifle salute and the playing of Taps by the American Legion Post 8 Honor Guard.