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NORWAY – Retired U.S. Army Col. Jackie Fogle of Livingston was the guest speaker for the Norway Memorial Day service attended by more than 100 Monday at Norway Baptist Church.

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Quilts of Valor by the Quilts of Valor organization and compact discs of regional veterans’ stories recorded by the North Branch Public Library were given to living veterans and their families respectively, and the names of local fallen veterans were read aloud. A symbolic wreath was placed in the church, and "Taps" was played in honor of the fallen soldiers.

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Fogle, who has a long military and educational background as well as being a former director of the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, gave historical background on the day: “Around the Civil War, it was called Decorating Day. They would go to the graves and decorate them. Supposedly, that is where the Confederate Rose came from.”

Honoring 'all' who died

He added that Southern and Northern states claimed the day’s beginning but that Memorial Day was officially started in 1971 and that the third Monday in May was established for the holiday commemorating fallen soldiers.

“Our right to worship as we please and to do what we want to do within limits is due to these people," Fogle said.

“We don’t know them all, but we owe them all,” Fogle stated during one part of his speech.

All gave some, some gave all

He added that a lot of veterans and families have suffered immensely not only because of loss but because of mental illness.

Fogle referenced homeless veterans and getting them the help they need to get back on their feet.

He emphasized not a hand out but the need for job training and other comparable assistance for homeless veterans.

Fogle then discussed those veterans who have already passed.

“There are over one million veterans who gave their lives for this country from the Civil War on forward,” Fogle said.

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He mentioned current affairs: “President Trump just deployed 15,000 more troops to the Middle East because of the Iran situation.”

“Freedom isn’t free. Yes, it is bad to lose a son or daughter, but it is necessary. We need to remember what this day is about. Take a moment to ponder this,” Fogle said.

Fogle concluded, “We need to honor the men and women who died for this great country. God bless America (and to those who have served) thank you for your service.”

Anne Mixson presented the Quilts of Valor to veterans Richard Spires of the Army, Tommy Gibson of the Army and Army Reserves, Coker Fogle of the National Guard and Athel Hart of the Air Force and Air National Guard. These veterans were actually wrapped in the quilts during part of the program and were seated at the front of the church with their individual quilts draped around them. Quilts of Valor have also been made available for the following veterans who were not in attendance: William F. Binnicker and Benjamin Steadman.

Mixson said the organization has more than 11,000 quilters nationwide, that a quilt costs approximately $250 and takes approximately 100 hours to make.

Sherryl “Tay” Mitchum of the North Branch Library of the Orangeburg County Library System presented CDs documenting regional soldiers’ stories to several in attendance and their family members.

Relatives of fallen soldiers who were in attendance were given a rose in remembrance of their lost loved ones. Fallen soldiers from Norway whose names were read aloud from the program included: Clyde Bair, Vance Barr, Willie Davis, Earnest Devote, Charles Henry Dyches, Harvey Fanning, Ralph Garrick, Duey A. Hutto, Jimmy McCoy Hutto, Robert Elbert Poole, E. Roselyn Rutland, Barco Sandford, Buell Sanford, J. Monroe Sanford, Julius Sutcliffe, Maynard Williams, Tilman Williams, and George Buggs.

During the program, Mayor Ann Johnson of Norway did the welcome, Kathy Berry sang several patriotic songs in honor of the fallen veterans, Diana Walker read a poem “I Am a Soldier’s Mother” in honor of them, Coker Fogle introduced the guest speaker, Jason Walker of the U.S. Army Reserve did the laying of the wreath, and the Revs. Benn Harr and Wendell Johnson prayed for the soldiers. The Harr also played “Taps” on his trumpet toward the end of the service.

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Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.

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