By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Veterans Day this year had a doubly special meaning as services honored veterans both living and dead, and marked the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
At the annual Hoke County Veterans Day service, Freddie McPhaul served as the master of ceremonies and the guest speaker. McPhaul explained in his remarks that this year, Veterans Day also fell on the anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“The theme of Veterans Day 2021 is centered on the centennial commemoration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” McPhaul said.
Since November 11, 1921, the tomb at Arlington National Cemetery has been the final resting place for one of America’s unidentified World War I service members. Unidentified service members from World War II and the Korean War were added later, according to the cemetery’s official information. Arlington National Cemetery held a series of commemorative events and ceremonies to mark the anniversary.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier connects visitors with the legacy of the United States armed forces, and functions as a memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice, and mourning, McPhaul said in remarks.
Architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, both World War I veterans, created the image on the front of the tomb. The tomb includes carvings of wreaths and three figures representing peace, victory and valor.
McPhaul also spoke of the importance of remembering Veterans Day and recognizing it as an annual holiday. The local ceremony is always the same time and place, he said.
“Of all the holidays we have throughout the year, I’ve never had nobody ask me, when is Halloween? I’ve never had nobody ask me, when is Christmas, when is Thanksgiving,” McPhaul said. “But I often, even this week (get asked) when is Veterans Day? Are you going to have a program? What time is it? So I ask you to spread this message: unless they change it after I’m dead and gone, or some of my fellow veterans, it’s always the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and we have it at the eleventh hour right here in this courthouse square for as long as I can remember. That is Veterans Day.”
The day was originally known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, November 11, 1918. Legislation passed in 1938 set the day as a holiday. In the 1950s, the day was renamed Veterans Day as a way to honor American veterans of all wars.
Raeford Mayor John K. McNeill and members of the Raeford City Council, Hoke County Board of Commissioners and Hoke County Board of Education attended the ceremony.
Multiple organizations took part in laying wreaths at the memorial on the courthouse grounds. George Balch represented Post 10, John McRae represented Post 20, Mary McClenahan represented the DAV, Commissioner Lonnie Baldwin represented the county board and McNeill represented the city of Raeford. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts volunteered to help officials present the wreaths.
Samantha Ray sang the National Anthem during the ceremony. Hoke County veterans performed a three-volley salute, and a trumpeter played TAPS.
Maggie’s Outreach honors veterans
Maggie’s Outreach Community Economic Development Center held a Veterans Day ceremony and luncheon to honor the veterans and veteran family members who work as part of the center’s staff. The annual luncheon was held in downtown Raeford at 109 North Main Street. Bishop Henry Braddy served as the guest speaker for the event.
Gloria McGregor, chair of the MOCEDC board, said the annual event is meant to show support for military service members.
“A lot of our staff are veterans, so we’re making sure we support them and let them know that we care and we appreciate them, and we appreciate the hard work that they do in the community and in our organization. That’s why we’re here today,” she said.
Shamell Peterkin, Stephanie Parker, Tewana McPhatter and SSG McPhatter, Thomasema Pannel, Shalonda Ford, James and Gloria McGregor, Tony McCoy, Freddie McPhaul and Amy Foreshee and SFC Glass were among the center’s circle of veterans and family of veterans recognized.
The luncheon included the presentation of the “Fallen Soldier’s Table,” a special setting to remember service members who died in the line of duty.
“Those who have served, and those currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice,” information about the table said.
Each component of the setting had a bigger meaning. The table was set with a white cloth, representing the purity of soldiers’ intentions in response to their country’s call to arms. A single rose in a vase signified the blood shed for freedom. A slice of lemon represented their bitter fate, and salt was a reminder of the tears shed by their families.
The inside of the space was decorated for the holiday in red, white and blue, with a display of uniforms from different branches of the armed forces.
MOCEDC works with at-risk youth through a variety of state and federal programs. For more information about the work that Maggie’s Outreach does, visit www.mocedc.com.