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Call made to live with honor, courage and commitment

By Staff | Jun 3, 2016

An annual Memorial Day ceremony was held at Edge Hill Cemetery in Charles Town at 11 a.m. Monday morning.

Wreaths were laid by members of several organizations including the American Legion Post 71; Sons of the American Legion Squadron 71; VFW?Post 3522; VFW?Post 3522 Auxiliary; United Daughters of the Confederacy; Beeline Chapter DAR; Pack Horse Ford DAR; Sons of Confederate Veteans and the Jefferson High School Junior ROTC.

Following the wreath placements, keynote speaker Kelvin Upson, U.S. Navy Commander, Reitred, stepped to the podium.

Upson, who retired from active duty in 2015, called for each person listening to his address to “live your life with honor, courage and commitment.”

“To me, the definition of patriotism is the constant love and support of your country and those who have served in the military,” Upson said.

“What better way to honor the fallen than to live your lives the same way they fought for our country,” he stressed.

Upson shared that he has seen firsthand the emotional, psychological and physical toll of war on service members.

“I think it’s extremely important to take the time to honor the families of the fallen,” he said. He likened his own experience of losing a daughter in a vehicle accident several years ago.

“The scars are indescribable,” Upson said of the experience. “However, I feel a sense of pride and joy when someone takes the time to stop and remember her and tell me how much she meant to them.

“I?think the same can be done to all of the families who lost loved ones while serving our country.”

He encouraged listeners to imagine the impact that could be had on a family member who was told of the appreciation felt for their loved one’s sacrifice.

Upson also shared an anecdote with the audience during his address about his service in the U.S. Navy while in Baghdad for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Hardly a day went by where there wasn’t at least a large siren heard all across the base indicating an incoming missile or bomb. At that point, the entire base would run for cover, whether it was under a desk or the nearby bunker, and then after everything settled down, we would emerge from the bunker and see shrapnel covering everything in sight,” Upson said.

In addition to Upson’s address, the service included an invocation prayer; “America the Beautiful” and “Star Spangled Banner” played by the Charles Town Middle School band; a rifle salute and the Jefferson High School Junior ROTC playing ‘Taps.’