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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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‘America is a nation worth fighting for’
Veterans and fallen soldiers remembered
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Photo by Stephanie Cook: Keynote speaker Daina Kubasak addresses a crowd of veterans and their families at Saturday’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Franklin County Veteran’s Memorial Park in Rocky Mount.

Monday, May 26, 2014

By STEPHANIE COOK - Special to the News-Post

"Throughout history, our freedom has been paid for with the lives of our brave young men and women serving their country, who come from big cities and small towns all across America. May their sacrifices never be forgotten."

These were the closing words of Daina Kubasak, the keynote speaker at Saturday's Memorial Day service at Franklin County Veterans' Memorial Park.

Kubasak's only son, Army Cpl. Jared William Kubasak, was killed in Iraq when the Bradley Fighter vehicle he was riding in ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) near Baghdad in December 2005.

He was the only soldier from Franklin County killed in that war.

"I want to remember the days that Jared lived, not the day he died, so I remember the active, busy little boy with the big smile who grew up here in Franklin County," said Kubasak. "The details of Jared's death are not nearly as important as his life. He had become a proud and dedicated young man, serving his country and proud of doing what he loved to do."

Kubasak explained how her son had found purpose and brotherhood in the Army, and described him through the words of his fellow soldiers: " He was the definition of a soldier, never questioning orders, willing to work his fingers to the bone, asking questions to obtain knowledge, and entertaining in his time off. He was loyal and committed to those on his crew and in his platoon. When it was time to work, he was always there to lend a helping hand to anyone that needed it."

Kubasak explained how her life has changed since the death of her son, when she and her husband became known as "gold star parents."

"I have told myself that I will do anything I can for Jared's memory, so I find myself doing things I never could have imagined before," she said. "I'm known as a gold star mother," explaining that a gold star on a service flag shows that a family's loved one has made the supreme sacrifice in service for their country.

Kubasak wears a gold star pin given to her by the government.

"Although less than an inch in size, these pins are full of meaning and emotion. They are not awards. They are symbols of honor," she added.

Cpl. Kubasak earned the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Expeditionary Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

The Pigg River bridge on Route 40 West was recently named the "Army Corporal Jared William Kubasak Memorial Bridge" in honor of Cpl. Kubasak.

Of the many awards and honors that have been bestowed upon him, Kubasak said her son would be amazed. "He would say that he was just doing his job."

Rev. Ronald Coleman, pastor of Henry Fork Church of the Brethren, also spoke at Saturday's ceremony.

"Often times our children, our men and our women, they don't come back the way they left," said Coleman. "This Memorial Day, all I want to do is remind you that people are what really counts."

Coleman encouraged the audience to remember the deceased and their families, thanking God for the good memories and the sacrifices made.

"Keep remembering what our soldiers have done for us. Let us never ever forget," Coleman said. "This day is dedicated to all who have answered the call to service. Whether they live here among us today in honor, or whether they sleep in valor beneath this sacred ground."

Saturday's ceremony, organized by the Franklin County Veterans' Memorial Commission, also featured the "National Anthem," sung by Blair Graninger, and special music by The Wright Kids.

SSgt. Harry Coates, a WWII veteran and charter member of the commission, placed the wreath at the monument.

The opening prayer was given by Rev. Eddie Hawks, also a veteran and pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church.

Charles Wagner, park commission member and member of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, gave the opening remarks and welcome.

Giving the closing remarks was B.W. Wright, chairman of the commission.

Charlotte Hill played "Taps," and the ceremony was opened and closed by cadets from FCHS's Junior ROTC presenting and retiring the colors.

All veterans and their families were treated to lunch after the ceremony at the Henry Fork Church of the Brethren. The meal was blessed by Pastor Coleman.

"Every American should recognize this Memorial Day weekend as their patriotic duty," said Coleman. "We should pause and we should honor those who spilled their blood to make America what she is today. She is free. She is strong. She is a nation worth fighting for."

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