The Fort Scott National Cemetery #1 hosted a large turnout as members of the community and out-of-town visitors came to the ceremony honoring servicemen and women who died while defending the United States and its values.
“It is a great privilege to join with you on these hallowed grounds,” said Thomas Maynard, master of ceremony of the event and assistant director of the Leavenworth National Cemetery. “Americans have paid for our way of life be giving theirs…We can never repay.”
James Collins, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Fort Scott and retired Master Sergeant and Chaplain after more than 27 years of service in the U.S. Army, gave the keynote address and emphasized the importance of Memorial Day as a day to remember those soldiers who were killed in the battles the country took part in.
“There’s something special about remembering,” Collins said, saying that action brings the fallen back into the hearts and minds of those remembering, allowing their legacy to continue despite the years since they lived.
Collins said he oversaw a number of military funerals because of his responsibilities as a chaplain, and recalled when a knock on his door during the midnight hours seven years ago brought news that his own best friend had been killed. Collins said the one question the friends and family members of fallen soldiers ask is “why?”
“We have all asked why, and I wish that I had an answer,” Collins said.
But Collins advised his listeners should also ask two other questions in such times of grief: who can I turn to and what is left for us moving forward. Collins said those who experience loss should turn to God and each other for support and that they should never forget those loved ones as they move forward.
Reverend Jimmy Tucker of Diamond Community Church, Ralph Carlson, Floyd Feezell, Arnold Schofield, boy scout Cody Dean and two gold star mothers also participated in the ceremony. An honor volley was provided by VFW Post 1165 members and Jerry Witt played taps.