Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending the United States while serving in the military were honored during the AMVETS Post 110th annual Memorial Day Service held Sunday afternoon at Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin.

Those in attendance endured temperatures of about 90 degrees and heat indexes in the low 90s to show respect not only for Americans who lost their lives serving in the military, but also to military veterans who are still living.

"AMVETS has been doing it (Memorial Service) for several years to recognize veterans and pay tribute to the fallen and show respect for them," incoming AMVETS Post 110 Commander Larry Farmer said.

Farmer becomes AMVETS Post 110 Commander on June 1. Billy West is the current commander.

AMVETS Post 110 member Bobby Dearing led the service. He introduced AMVETS post member Don Wright who led opening and closing prayer. Dearing also introduced the guest speaker, Simpson County Judge/Executive Mason Barnes.

"When thinking about what I wanted to say today, the word freedom was what immediately came to my mind. I decided to Google the word freedom and here were the three definitions that immediately popped up: 1) the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, 2) absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government, 3) the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved," Barnes said. "Here in these great United States we can thank our veterans, that we have these freedoms. That we are free to say what we want, for the most part, we are free to do what we want. We are free to vote and choose our leaders. We are free to openly and publicly criticize those leaders when we disagree with their actions. We are free to travel this country and cross state lines. We are free to arm and defend ourselves and our family and friends from harm. We are even free to protest, or even kneel rather than salute during the playing of our National Anthem (although I find this practice to be very disrespectful and anti-American).

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While we are free to do all these things, there was definitely a price paid to give us these freedoms. That price -- was and is the cost of American lives. Military men and women who had a willingness to fight for and defend our freedoms without regard for their own well-being. Their willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that we may continue to enjoy these freedoms. I have a great respect for those individuals who have fought for our freedom. Those who have willingly put on a military uniform, knowing that if sent into battle, that a real possibility exists they may never see their family, or loved ones, or friends again. Statistics show us, that dating back to the Revolutionary War, that well over one million U.S. soldiers have given their lives during war time. That is a staggering and sobering number. There are quite a few Simpson Countians in that number. We owe these individuals a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid, nor would these individuals ask us to, even if we could, because they were fulfilling a duty and obligation to God and country. To simply say thank you to someone who is willing to sacrifice their life, so that we may experience freedom, can seem to be a very insignificant gesture. But to a veteran, hearing the words thank you is very significant. So, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart today. Thank you for your willingness to serve. Thank you for loving our country. Thank you for caring about your fellow man. Thank you for defending our freedom."

A member of the Simpson County Honor Guard placed a wreath in front of the area of the service following Barnes' presentation.The honor guard then presented a 21-gun salute and honor guard member David Brigance played in infamous "Taps" song.

"It was an honor to be here to (speak), it was truly an honor," Barnes said about being asked to be the guest speaker following the service.

"It's a wonderful thing that the AMVETS do it (Memorial Service)... we appreciate it," Liz Burris said following the service.

Burris, who is a member and officer in various veteran's organizations also noted that the Simpson County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution attend the annual services, including Sunday's, to provide assistance such as providing drinking water.

Some in attendance expressed disappointment about fewer people attending the Memorial Day Service each year.

For more information about AMVETS Post 110 contact the chapter's home on Washington Way in the former Printers Inc. building.

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