Moments of quiet reflection were observed this week as the Chism-Landers American Legion Post 361 held its annual Memorial Day services.
The event had more than 100 people in attendance and was a tribute to all who had died in the line of duty, while serving their country. Post commander, Wayne Basden welcomed the group to the ceremony and asked for a moment of silence to remember “those that have endured and still ensure the hardships of war.”
A somber and reminder of those unable to be in attendance due to being a prisoner of war or missing in action was a small table, complete with place settings and an empty chair. Basden explained the significance of the items on the table to the crowd.
“The table is small symbolizing the frailty of the prisoner, a single red rose symbolizes blood shed and the loss felt by family and friends. The inverted drinking glass symbolizes the inability of the POW or MIA’s inability to toast with us today and the candle lit in the center of the table symbolizes the light of hope which lives in our hearts illuminating the way home,” he said.
Many observers were openly moved by the candid display and bowed their heads in respect.Guest speaker, Paul Dillard, former Texas Sergeant at Arms, encouraged the crowd to let the service be a renewal of their loyalty to their country and their flag and a reminder to those still fighting for freedom but also to the many children that suffer the loss of a parent.
“In today’s war there are over 1,200 children living in single parent homes because they lost a parent to the war and presently 43.5 percent of the military forces are parents. Their families are being bestowed upon us to care for them, we have an important charge before us,” Dillard said.
In a presentation of plaques given to the families of fallen soldiers, Cassie Nolen, wife of Navy Corpsman Kyle Nolen, who was killed in Iraq in December of 2006, was escorted to the front of the room for the presentation. She was given a plaque with Nolen’s picture and description of service on it and battled emotions to express her gratitude for the honor.
“This means everything to me. It is comforting to know that so many people care about Kyle and that he is remembered,” she said.
A recording of a song by a Frisco man and his son was played over the loud speakers, titled “triangle of stars”, referencing the sacrifice of those who have died in the line of duty.
The last presentation was a touching reminder of those members of the post that had passed away in the previous year. A candle was lit for every post and auxiliary member and a bigger candle was lit in the middle of the table representing all soldiers lost in battle in Iraq. Three rows of empty chairs also stood as a solemn reminder of post members that had passed away.
The ceremony ended as a wreath was laid outside in remembrance for all those who had given the ultimate sacrifice past and present.