Memorial Day 2020 will be unlike any other in memory.
The large public gatherings, parades and speeches have been sidelined, like much of society, by the coronavirus pandemic.
The performance of military honors at funerals is on hold.
But Memorial Day is not. There are still efforts to honor the dead of America’s wars, and they’re not hard to spot.
Main Street is lined again with banners honoring the 72 Jackson County men who died in World War II, along with six Revolutionary War veterans who are buried here and those taken from us in World War I, Korea, Vietnam and Lebanon.
That effort was unveiled in 2017, the work of Lambert Hooper, who as a child growing up in Sylva listened with fellow first-grade classmates to President Franklin Roosevelt’s WWII declaration of war address over a radio his teacher had brought to the classroom.
The Town of Sylva will again put out Flags of Honor, a project launched by the Sylva Rotary Club. The popular display gained nationwide fame just a few months ago when it was featured in a Super Bowl segment featuring Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter.
Sheila Setzer, director of the Jackson County Veterans Office, will again place wreaths in front of the downtown fountain, at the Charters of Freedom display at Mark Watson Park and in front of the Veterans Office. The honorifics sidelined by the pandemic will be missed, and those who fell duty-bound to perform them are crestfallen.
“We haven’t been able to do military honors at funerals,’’ said Commander Ed Harwood of William E. Dillard American Legion Post #104. “Everything’s just been shut down. Wish we could do our normal thing, but we can’t. The day will be different, but the reason for it, to honor the sacrifice of America’s service personnel, remains the same.
This year it’s more important than ever for the general public to pause and reflect on those sacrifices.
This year we again offer a snippet from a Los Angeles Times editorial that ran on Memorial Day in 1968 while the Vietnam war was raging that frames the duties, and debt, ordinary citizens have on this day:
“We would suggest that the best remembrance, the greatest tribute, we can pay those who have died in their nation’s wars, and those fated to do so, is not simply to institutionalize their sacrifice on one day out of the year. Rather it is to live our own lives as citizens of this Republic, and conduct our affairs as a power in the world, according to the higher goals in whose name these sacrifices are made. That would be tribute indeed, and surely little enough to ask.”
In a normal year, one poignant marker of Memorial Day is Post Everlasting, a public recitation of the names of county veterans who have departed in the past year. This year, with a public ceremony unavailable, Harwood and Setzer graciously provided those names for publication in The Sylva Herald, a task we are honored to provide.
Remember them this Memorial Day.
POST EVERLASTING 2019-2020
Names of county Veterans deceased over the last year
Chrismon T. Smith
Harold “Gene” Mitchell
Michael “Mike” James Frady
Harold Lee Penick
James Lenoard “Blue Jay” Sequoyah Jr.
Edwin Taylor Norton
William C. “Bill” Austin
Harvey John Dewolf
Myron “Mike” Robert Ledford
Andrew Davis Martin
Chandler Felix Cook
Tyron Willard “Bill” Freeman
Ellerd Miner Hulbert
Dannette Kathleen Garcia
Daniel Ray Foxworth
Donald “Lucky” Rose
Gene Curtis Evans
Louise Mabel Maney II
Carvel Ross Eyre
Don Allen Keener
Major Charles Knighton
Robert Dennis “Rob” Mathews
Jonathan Joseph Molinatto
Wayne Earl Millsaps
Thomas Clifton “Tom” Green
William “Bill” H. Leatherwood
Charlie Sebastian Cabe
Dr. Richard Lee Wall
Carl Rogers Shelton
Charles F. Zackman
John Henry Maney
Winnie Lee Nunez
Brian David McClure
Vester Guy Blanton Jr.
Kenneth Dewey Crowe
Benjamin Avery “Ben” Dillard (Battle of the Bulge)
Note: The gathering of this list was an exhaustive undertaking, and apologies are extended if any names are absent.