Edge Hill Cemetery honors local heroes
CHARLES TOWN – Hundreds gathered in Edge Hill Cemetery Monday morning to honor those who gave their lives in military service, dying in combat. An annual event hosted by the VFW Post in Charles Town, the morning ceremonies led off with the laying of wreaths by several organizations including the American Legion Post 71, VFW Post 3522, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Beeline Chapter DAR, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Jefferson High School JROTC.
Following the placement of the wreaths, guest speaker Ralph Fox, 10th District Commander, American Legion, spoke to the crowd about why Memorial Day is not a day for celebration.
“This is not a holiday or a day for celebration. It is not a day for picnics or fireworks. It is a day to remember fallen heroes of our great country,” Fox said. “Their service-there is no more sacrifice that anyone can give. What they did allows us here today to have the right to be free and remain free.”
Fox shared what he called a history lesson as he spoke of war and facts not taught in today’s schools. He spoke of soldiers in World War I who gave their lives in trench warfare, doing all that was asked of them in what he termed “a hellacious war.”
“More than 9 million soldiers died in World War I,” he said. “Sixty-five million men from 30 countries fought.”
He shared that World War II was the most destructive conflict in history where more property was damaged or destroyed than at any other time.
Throughout American history, men fought in places such as Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Thousands died in the line of duty and continue to do so, Fox said.
He spoke also of the Civil War where brother fought against brother. West Virginia, he said, had many who died during that war. He questioned why the Confederate battle flags had been removed from the graves of those Confederate soldiers who are laid to rest in Edge Hill Cemetery, but had no answer.
“West Virginia has a great history of men and women who fought,” Fox said. “Per capita of men and women, West Virginia has had more serve than any other state in the country,” he said. He shared that 71 individuals from West Virginia have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
He challenged attendees to remember what Memorial Day is supposed to be about.
“When you leave and go do whatever you do today, stop, think about what all these brave men and women have done for us,” he said.
“Don’t celebrate. Sit back and reflect; say a private prayer and say thank you,” he said.