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Former chaplain: ‘It’s not a holiday, but a holy day’ [with gallery]

Lt. Col. (Ret.) David Trogden told those gathered at Monday’s Memorial Day Celebration in Opp that heroes are those who gave their lives for Americans’ freedoms.

“For far too many, Memorial Day has become nothing but picnics, fishing, going to the beach and hot dogs and hamburgers,” he said.

“It’s about heroes.”

Trogden, who is a former chaplain of Ft. Benning, said heroes are not on a ball field but on a battlefield.

“They are heroes who sacrificed the comforts of home and their lives,” he said. “They did it for people they never met, but our society seems to forget a lot about heroes.”

Trogden said that googling the definition of hero reveals that it is “a man – or woman – of distinct ability and character.”

“Today, we honor true heroes,” he said. “This morning I was able to walk around the cemetery, where I saw the flags placed. I love to walk through cemeteries. I like to read tombstones and see all I can about those who have been laid to rest. I saw heroes from World War II, heroes from Korea, heroes from Vietnam and even one who was a hero from WWII, Korea and Vietnam.”

Trogden said that those who serve in the Armed Forces aren’t comfortable being called heroes.

“Because we aren’t,” he said. “Heroes to me are those who didn’t come home or those who wait at home not knowing whether we are alive or dead. So we have that great honor to celebrate Memorial Day not as a happy day but as a holy day.”

He said that Memorial Day is celebrated for the benefit of families.

“We remember the price that was paid so that you and I could be free,” he said. “The price that was paid so that you and I could be part of the greatest nation. So we can gather together at meetings like this. Gather on Sunday. Have freedom of the press. Freedoms that are too often taken for granted.”

He said that those freedoms don’t exist in places like Afghanistan.

Trogden quoted John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

“I’m thankful that Jesus laid down his life for me and so many others,” he said. “We have men and women who answered the call. They went to places they never even heard of sometimes. Risked their lives and laid down their lives because they loved their nation and their families. Someone once said that soldiers don’t die for their country, they die for their buddies. I believe that to be very true. They also die for people they don’t know.

“I’m thankful that we are part of a nation that doesn’t declare war just to make conquest,” he said.

Trogden said that we may not always agree with every part of a politicians rationale for war, but that we fight for freedoms.”