Salutes and social distancing at Darlington’s Memorial Day ceremony
By Samantha Lyles
Though things definitely looked a little different at this year’s Memorial Day observance, with many folks wearing face masks and groups of people sitting several feet apart on the Darlington County Courthouse grounds, the spirit of the occasion was unchanged.
Veterans, their families, and appreciative citizens gathered on a windy Monday morning to pay their respects to America’s military veterans, especially those who gave their lives to defend our nation.
Dennis Jenkins of Darlington American Legion Post 13 expressed gratitude to the modest audience, largely comprised of senior citizens, for leaving their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he urged them to observe social distancing guidelines for safety’s sake. He opened the program by reading “Memorial Day,” a poem written in 1919 by Annette Wynne.
“Is it enough to think today of all our brave, and then put away the thought until a year has sped? Is this full honor for our dead?” Jenkins read. “Is it enough to sing a song and deck a grave, and all year long forget the brave who died that we might keep our great land proud and free?”
Keynote speaker Capt. Ronald S. Abrams Jr., currently Commander of the Florence Army Recruiting Company, focused his remarks on three of the Army’s core values: selfless service, honor and personal courage. Abrams suggested that Memorial Day was an ideal occasion for introspection, a time to evaluate how to incorporate those traits into our personal conduct.
“Those values are ways our fallen heroes can instruct us to make our world a better place,” Abrams said.
He observed that every person bears some of the responsibility for keeping our nation prosperous, free, and civil, and warned against “self-serving behaviors” that break down the fabric of families, communities, and the nation.
“It would be an understatement to say we live in interesting times. We just have to look at each other — wearing masks, social distancing yourselves — to realize that as difficult as it’s been over the last few months, as it has been for every American, Memorial Day is an excellent time to reflect on our faith and our values,” said Abrams.
Abrams shared that his decision to pursue a military career was largely due to his father, Major Ronald Abrams Sr., who served 24 years in the Air Force Reserves and loved watching NASCAR events at the Darlington Raceway. Abrams described his dad as “a fighter” and likened his “too tough to tame” spirit to homegrown heroes like WWII flyer Lt. William Farrow and fallen police officer Terrence Carraway.
The Memorial Day program included a musical salute to each branch of the military service. Veterans stood, saluted, and were recognized as official songs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard rang out. In closing, the Darlington Fire Department slowly rang a bell – a somber remembrance of the fallen and honored dead.