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A Day of Remembrance

memorial_day_t.jpgBOONE—Watauga County residents have circled the globe in service to their country, many losing their lives in the process.

Memorial Day Ceremony_t2.jpgMembers from Ashe County High School’s junior ROTC program served as the honor guard during a Memorial Day Observance at Appalachian state University. Michael J. O'Connor_t2.jpg Memorial Day speaker Michael J. O’Connor urged everyone to reflect on those who had lost their lives in service to their country. (Photos by university photographer Marie Freeman)

“All those who served and perished in defense of the United States exemplify the word ‘hero’ and must never be forgotten,” said Michael J. O’Connor during a Memorial Day Observance at Appalachian State University. O’Connor is director of Appalachian State University’s Physical Plant and served 24 years in the U.S. Navy. He retired as a captain in 2006.

“In my short time here, I have come to learn that although Watauga County is remote, its citizens have not been insulated from the call to service to our nation,” he said.

O’Connor read names of local families who had lost loved ones in World War II from newspaper clippings collected and saved the late Nancy Winebarger. The names included Coffey, Farthing, Greene, Lookabill, Eggers, Moretz and Storie. “I was fascinated by how far around the world the county’s residents traveled to protect the world from tyranny,” O’Connor said.

He also paid tribute to those who served in the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm, and in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Those who have surrendered their lives in service of their nation for a cause much larger than self, and the families they have left behind, have indeed paid the ultimate price and made the ultimate sacrifice,” O’Connor said.