In late May every year, small crosses are placed on the lawn of the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin. Each has the name of a county resident who died while serving in the armed forces.
It’s a poignant and sobering reminder that the losses are personal.
One bears the name of Brian D. Hazelgrove, who died Jan. 23, 2004, while flying an Army helicopter in Iraq.
Ron and Patty Hazelgrove stopped at the cross bearing their son’s name before last year’s Johnson County Memorial Day observance.
Before their son died, Ron and Patty Hazelgrove said, they saw Memorial Day as just another day in a three-day weekend.
“We see (Memorial Day) a little different than we did,” Ron Hazelgrove said. “When you lose someone you know, you see a little more of what the day is.”
Despite the hoopla of the Indianapolils 500 and the chance to relax over a three-day weekend, Memorial Day isn’t a time for celebration; it’s a time for remembrance, a solemn reminder that American freedom comes at a cost.
At last year’s service outside the courthouse, Webber LaGrange, a World War II veteran, said: “The men and women whose lives we memorialize this day are truly the heroic dead. All of their hopes and dreams and all of their tomorrows, they gave up so we might have ours.”
Seeing the crosses is a reminder of exactly what the day is about.
Brian Hazelgrove knew the risks when he signed up to be a pilot in the Army nearly two decades ago, Patty Hazelgrove said.
His life and what he gave up makes the day more memorable, his parents said.
“We remember every day, the sacrifice,” Ron Hazelgrove said. “We are proud of him and all who serve.”
So as you relax over the holiday weekend, take a moment to ponder the true message of the day. If you are able attend one of the Memorial Day observances across the county.
If you’re in Franklin, look over the small field of crosses. Pause and read some of the names.
That small gesture is a way of saying thanks for a great sacrifice.