ROGERSVILLE — For many people, Memorial Day means time off from work for relaxing, but Dennis Elkins hopes Americans will also take time Monday to remember why that holiday was created.
Elkins, who was elected American Legion Post 21 commander in Rogersville last month, will be the keynote speaker at Monday’s Memorial Day service in downtown Rogersville.
A lifelong Hawkins County resident, Elkins served 15 months in Vietnam in 1970-71 and later retired from International Playing Card and Label after 29 years. For the past two years, Elkins served as Post 21 vice-commander.
He told the Times News Tuesday that the main message he hopes to pass along Monday is that Freedom isn’t free and that Memorial Day is set aside for recognizing Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to provide us with the freedoms we enjoy.
“We don’t get the participation from our elected like we should,” Elkins said. “This day wasn’t given to us to just have something for ourselves to do. It was given to honor the men and women who gave us these rights we’ve got now.
“We have these observances for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but I think a lot of people take these things for granted. It cost something for us to have this opportunity, and there are still people who care enough to take their time to come out and honor the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
The Memorial Day service begins at 11 a.m. at Courthouse Square.
Cathy Groff, whom Elkins replaces as Post 21 commander, will be master of ceremonies.
Rev. Travis Whited, who is chaplain of the 844th Engineer Battalion, will offer the prayer, followed by the presentation of colors by NJROTC cadets from Cherokee and Volunteer high schools.
The Bowman Trio will perform the national anthem and VFW Post 9754 Commander James Vaughn will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Following Elkins’ keynote address, past Post 21 commanders Groff and Julie Forgety will read the names of Hawkins County veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The service will conclude with the placing of flowers on the courthouse veterans monument by family, relatives and friends; Forgety reciting the poem “Confessions of a Woman in Green”; the rifle salute by the Hawkins County color guard; and the playing of taps by Katherine Gibbons and Andy Hipshire.