Veterans Council gears up for Memorial Day weekend in Randolph County

Here was part of the scene last year during a Memorial Day ceremony in Asheboro. (Randolph Record file photo)

ASHEBORO – Placing flags at the graves of veterans is one of the activities taking place in advance of Memorial Day in Randolph County.

Rob Wilkins, commander of the Randolph County Veterans Council, said it’s an important undertaking.

“We need the public’s help,” Wilkins said. “We provide the flags for them. We want to encourage folks to do this whether they use our flags or purchase their own.”

At 9 a.m. Saturday, veterans organizations and volunteers will place American flags on graves of veterans at Randolph Memorial Park and Oaklawn Cemetery in Asheboro.

Wilkins said there are more than 2,000 graves of veterans at those two sites combined. He said some graves are missing flags from a year ago and worn flags need to be replaced.

The Randolph County Veterans Council has been distributing flags this week at American Legion Post 45 to be placed on graves of local veterans as part of Operation Remembrance. The goal of Operation Remembrance is to ensure that every veteran’s grave in Randolph County is marked by an American flag each year for Memorial Day and Veterans Days.

With more than 300 cemeteries in Randolph County, community involvement is needed to achieve that goal, Wilkins said.

There will be a Memorial Day ceremony at 4 p.m. Monday at the Veterans Memorial near the historic Randolph County Courthouse on Worth Street in Asheboro.

Each year, a different branch of service is given special recognition during the ceremony. This year, it’s the U.S. Coast Guard.

That means that Wilkins will be the emcee and keynote speaker for the ceremony, which usually lasts about a half-hour. Wilkins served 21 years of active duty in the Coast Guard before returning to Asheboro. He’ll also be the grand marshal for the Veterans Day parade in November.

“There aren’t many Coasties around in Randolph County,” he said.

There will be a reading of the names of all Randolph County residents who were killed in action and are listed on the local veterans memorial. Also, names will be read of all veterans who’ve died since last Memorial Day.

With the Coast Guard the focus this year, a deceased member of that service is specifically remembered as a fallen veteran during the ceremony. That will be Jack Kenan Marsh, an Asheboro man who died Jan. 22 at age 85.

By Bob Sutton