Some 1.2 million Americans have died fighting for their country since the Revolutionary War, retired Army Brig. Gen. Russel R. Weiskircher told a crowd gathered for a Memorial Day ceremony Monday.
That’s the price of freedom, he said.
“Every time a man or woman puts on a uniform, be he a volunteer or a draftee, be he Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard, he signs a blank check that we do what is needed to preserve and dedicate this country and to further the rule of law,” Weiskircher said.
“And to prove that might does not make right.”
Weiskircher, a White County resident and a World War II veteran who took part in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Dachau, Germany, was the featured speaker in a fifth annual celebration sponsored by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
The event took place at Memorial Park Funeral Home off Memorial Park Drive in Gainesville.
“Today we honor those who have given everything, including their own precious lives, to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted,” Sheriff Steve Cronic told the crowd.
Weiskircher addressed that point in his speech.
“Freedom is not free. It’s a noisy battle, or it’s a loud protest or it’s a quiet whisper,” he told a crowd gathered for the event. “... It’s an education that you need. It’s a ballot that you mark or punch or pull the lever.”
As part of Monday’s commemoration, deputies assigned to the department’s Honor Guard marched as armed guards in 45-minute shifts in the cemetery’s veterans section. The armed guard lasted 24 hours, ending at midnight Monday.
The event also featured a flag retirement ceremony in which a flag was folded by Hall County sheriff’s deputies, placed in a container and burned.
And Cronic honored Willard J. Langdon, a Vietnam War veteran and sheriff’s office retiree, presenting him with the department’s medal of valor and sheriff’s commendation award. Langdon has just completed the second edition of a book called “Law Enforcement in Hall County.”
On Jan. 8, 1968, Langdon “distinguished himself when he entered a known minefield under fire and in the dark ... to land aircraft (that had arrived) to extract wounded soldiers,” Cronic said.
Langdon spent a total of 44-plus years in public service.
“He is a textbook definition of a true patriot, one who loves his country without question,” Cronic said.