SWANSBORO, N.C. --
In 1776, Nathan Hale, a soldier in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was captured by the British during an intelligence-gathering operation in New York City. Upon his hanging, Hale, with his last mortal breath, spoke the time-enduring words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
Since then, such acts and feelings of patriotism and self-sacrifice have never weathered with the flow of time as military men and women have earned the mark of a hero. Later in life, after they step down from active service, their heroic deeds are not retired with their uniforms, but carried on to be recognized by following generations.
Such is the purpose behind the Swansboro Young Marines detachment as they hosted their 6th annual Veterans Appreciation Spaghetti Dinner and Veterans Balloon-releasing Ceremony at the Woodsmen of the World Lodge 1405, Nov. 14.
“Every year, the Young Marines have a veterans appreciation week where they must hold three events that honor military veterans,” said Sherri Cooney, paymaster for the Swansboro Young Marines. “Earlier they marched in the Veterans Day Parade, and today they are doing the spaghetti dinner and balloon-releasing.”
The event started with a detail of Young Marines formed up with a total of 107 balloons with the names of local veterans tied to the ends. After the color guard marched and posted, a few words on the importance of honoring veterans were shared by the guest speaker, Col. Timothy S. Mundy, commanding officer of the School of Infantry – East aboard Camp Geiger.
“Unfortunately, armed conflict has always been a terrible part of history,” said Mundy. “For that, there will always be a need for men and women in uniform, so it is important we honor those veterans and reflect on their sacrifices.”
After his speech, Mundy gave the order for the detail of Young Marines to release the balloons into the clear blue Sunday sky. Attendees and veterans were invited into the lodge following the balloon release for the spaghetti dinner.
At the end of the day, the Young Marines accomplished their annual task of honoring our nation's veterans, but not just because they were required to, but because each one of them feels it inside themselves to recognize those who have marched before them.
"If it wasn't for the veterans who fought for our country, we wouldn't enjoy the freedom we have today," said YM Pvt. Brenda Kiser. "They fought and died for us; it's only right that we recognize them."
With another veterans appreciation week come and gone, it does not mean we as a country should ignore the daily sacrifices made by the brave men and women in uniform, past and present. The Swansboro Young Marines understand this, as many American do, not letting the memory of our veterans valor die.