Without an understanding of history and the men and women who created this country, we are lost, Elijah Washington says.
That's why for more than 50 years, he's been helping to organize the annual Memorial Day tribute to veterans in the city of Beaufort.
"Let's not forget," he said. "You can't really know where you are going unless you know where you're from."
Across Beaufort County this weekend, military support organizations, churches and other groups are planning ceremonies, parades, services and concerts in honor of Memorial Day.
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Hilton Head Island residents are continuing their 19-year tradition of an observance ceremony, although military budget cuts mean the traditional flyover will not occur.
"We feel it's very important that those who serve our country and gave their lives for our country should not be forgotten," said Gene Sullivan of the Hilton Head Council of the Navy League, which helps organize the island event.
Military officials and veterans are scheduled to speak at events in Beaufort, Sun City and on Hilton Head.
Some businesses are getting into the spirit, as well. Ultimate Car Wash in Bluffton, for example, will provide veterans free car washes on Monday.
Beaufort American Legion Post 9 is setting up a seating area for the elderly and for disabled veterans to watch the annual parade in downtown Beaufort. About 40 folding chairs will be set up on Carteret Street, between Duke and Washington streets, starting at 8:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. parade. Parking is being provided at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Here are some of the Memorial Day events planned around the county this weekend:
- The Women's Relief Corps and Sons and Daughters of War Veterans plan a 3 p.m. service Sunday at Central Baptist Church at 1111 Prince St., featuring the Rev. John R. Dortch. A gathering in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park will follow, during which flowers will be thrown into the water in memory of those who died at sea.
- The annual parade will be at 10 a.m. Monday and start at the corner of Rodgers and Boundary streets and follow the traditional route. Parade lineup begins at 9 a.m.
- A ceremony will follow at noon Monday in Beaufort National Cemetery, 1601 Boundary St. The keynote speaker is the Rev. E. Terri LaVelle, director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- The Church of the Cross Memorial Day Carnival will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the church at 495 Buckwalter Parkway. 843-757-2661. www.thechurchofthecross.net
HILTON HEAD ISLAND
- The Hilton Head Choral Society will present an "America Sings" concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Parkway. Tickets: $20. www.hiltonheadchoralsociety.org
- The Hilton Head Council of the Navy League and the Military Veterans Coalition will sponsor the annual Memorial Day Observance at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the veterans memorial in Shelter Cove Community Park. The keynote speaker will be Col. Wayne Jones, commanding officer of the Recruit Training Regiment at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. The Hilton Head Choral Society will sing patriotic songs.
- The Sun City Hilton Head Veterans Association will host its annual observance at 10 a.m. Monday in the Pinckney Hall parking lot of the gated community. Maj. David Blanchard with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade from Hunter Army Airfield will speak.