Perhaps we forget about what Memorial Day is all about. With the big races and the barbecues, it is easy to forget what the holiday is really about. It is about my grandfather’s brother, Sgt. Ira J. “Pete” McCarty, a tank gunner who died in the closing days of World War II in Germany. Pete was one of those Boys of Saluda whose name marks a monument on the Saluda Courthouse grounds that honors the farm boys who gave up their lives, their sweethearts and their dreams for the rest of us. My grandfather served honorably in the United States Navy, and went on to live without his dear brother.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the war for our freedom continues. Each and every day, some boy of Saluda gives, regardless of where he is from, the full dedication for the rest us. Every soldier lost is a boy of Saluda. Take a moment to think of those boys of Saluda and the boys of your hometown who gave the full measure of devotion to us all. That is what Memorial Day is really all about.
I have had the high honor to attend a dear friend’s funeral at Arlington. But, the deepest of chills are felt when I read those names of the Boys of Saluda on that courthouse yard monument. I think of the lives those young men could have had. I think of the dreams they had. I think of their sweethearts waiting for them in vain. I read out loud the names and I think of the debt we all owe those Boys of Saluda for the very freedoms we enjoy.
God bless the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. God bless the souls of those who have given this nation the full measure of devotion. May we all realize and appreciate the sacrifice of those like the Boys of Saluda and beyond. That is what Memorial Day is all about.