Community gathers for 2024 Memorial Day service at Heavner Cemetery

BUCKHANNON — On a bright, solemn Monday morning at Heavner Cemetery, community members gathered to honor and remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The 2024 Memorial Day Service was a heartfelt tribute to those who have fallen in defense of the United States, a time of reflection and gratitude shared by all present.

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner addressed the gathering with a poignant speech, emphasizing the profound significance of Memorial Day.

“Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests and fellow citizens of our Buckhannon-Upshur community: today, we gather in solemn remembrance and heartfelt gratitude for the brave men and women who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Memorial Day is so much more than just a holiday; it is a day of reflection, honor and reverence.”

Skinner highlighted the deep history of military service within the community, noting the sacrifices made by local families throughout the years.

“From the Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts, men and women from here in our community have consistently stepped forward in times of need, offering the best and bravest to defend our freedoms and protect our way of life.”

Ed Smith, commander of the Upshur County Honor Guard, also spoke, reminding attendees of the true meaning of heroism.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself,” Smith said. “The greatest glory of a freeborn people is to transmit that freedom to the next generation. We come not to mourn our dead soldiers but to pay our respects and honor their service.”

The service included a moment of silence, as well as the playing of Taps, a moving tribute that underscored the day’s significance. Skinner urged everyone to reflect on the sacrifices made and to commit to upholding the values of liberty, justice, patriotism and unity.

“Let us commit ourselves to upholding the values they fought for: liberty, justice, patriotism and unity,” Skinner said. “In our daily lives, let us strive to be citizens worthy of their sacrifice.”

While Memorial Day and Veterans Day both honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, they serve different purposes. Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, specifically honors military personnel who died in service, particularly those who died in battle or from wounds sustained in battle. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors all who have served honorably, whether in wartime or peace, with a particular focus on thanking living veterans for their service.

As the service concluded, the community left Heavner Cemetery with a renewed sense of gratitude and a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by those who served. The echoes of Skinner’s words lingered: “May their courage inspire us, may their sacrifice guide us, and may their memories eternally be the examples for all of us to follow.”

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