The Nashville American Legion held its annual Memorial Day service at Memorial Park on Monday morning.
The Rev. Waylon Middendorf gave a speech titled “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” He spoke about his time in the service, including an interaction that he and a fellow black Marine had trouble finding a place to eat together to celebrate their time in the service. They would end up finding a bar owned by blacks and ate hamburgers and French fries as their celebratory meal.
“The irony was I was accepted into his culture but my culture would not accept him,” he said.
A similar scene met him after he stepped off the bus in Jackson, MS. Middendorf said he felt like he had entered an
“This is 1962, almost 100 years after the Civil War,” Middendorf said. “I thought also the final words of the national anthem — the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Freedom is something that gets bantered about, Middendorf said, with some missing an important part about what makes someone truly free.
“With great freedom — the freedom we have here in America — goes great responsibility,” he said. “Responsibility that does not infringe on the rights of others.”
The annual ceremony also included performances from the Nashville Community High School Band, a wreath ceremony honoring those lost during the wars and conflicts since the Civil War, a flag folding presentation and a rifle salute by the Okawville Honor Guard.