A splattering of rain did little to dampen the atmosphere of the Annual Memorial Day Service at the Ardmore Veterans Home.
Patriot Guard riders, the Ardmore High School Band and speakers combined to honor America’s heroes — those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
Admiral Wesley Hull, Ret., provided the welcoming statements and thanked those in attendance on behalf of the veterans, their families and loved ones. In talking about other activities that typically draw people during Memorial Day, Hull praised attendees, saying it is not an edict to attend, but a desire to honor the veterans.
Both keynote speaker John Lewis Key and Matt Benedick, Cross Timbers Hospice chaplain, spoke of the origin of Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day. The holiday began following the Civil War and provided an opportunity to heal a nation, Benedick said.
“We needed a way to come back together again,” he said.
Benedick paid tribute to the men throughout the history that made freedom possible. In praising the men who served, he highlighted their contributions in comparison to those who did not serve.
"Can we say enough about remembering this day and what it stands for," he said. "So very few of us have a right to be here and it's only because someone paid the ultimate sacrifice." Although he did not serve, Key talked about the impact the military had on his family. His father, grandfather and uncle served, as did his wife in Desert Storm. For the occasion, he provided a topical President John F. Kennedy quote, "A nation reveals itself, not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers." Key recalled the history of Decoration Day, particularly in front of the historical veterans center building and talked about when Americans streamed flowers to decorate the graves of those who had served. He agreed with Admiral Wesley Hull that across the nation, the tradition of honoring those graves is disappearing.
"It's increasingly happening, the graves of those that served are being ignored and neglected," he said. ' In conclusion, Key brought attention to the flag flying at half-mast.
"It reminds us of the millions and millions that died so we can sit here in the rain," he said.
Key also said at noon the flag would be raised to show resolve that the sacrifices were not in vain. He also said Memorial Day is a time to bring closure for those sacrifices.
"Let's not forget to validate the lives that have been given to the United States," he said. "Without it, we don't have closure."