Nags Head honors veterans at outdoor ceremony

Published 7:57 am Sunday, November 14, 2021

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The Town of Nags Head honored United States veterans on Thursday at an outdoor ceremony at the municipal complex.

The Dare County Youth Orchestra opened with a patriotic medley, followed by a welcome from Mayor Ben Cahoon. “Veterans Day provides us with an opportunity to pause, reflect and recognize our veterans,” he said to the crowd gathered, which included local veterans, community members, former mayors, town and county commissioners and department heads.

The crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, sung by Barbara Minter. Pastor Nathanael Stevens of Nags Head Church gave the invocation, thanking God for implanting His “warrior image in those who at great sacrifice and risk to themselves, have fought for this nation.”

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Cahoon then introduced the guest speaker, retired Lieutenant Colonel for the United States Army Thomas McGeachy. Some of McGeachy’s miliary decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, U.S. Parachutist Badge and German Parachutist Badge. After retiring from the Army in 2007, McGeachy entered the education field, where he worked as an ROTC instructor, then moved on to public education, where he currently serves as the Nags Head Elementary School principal.

McGeachy began by sharing stories of local veterans from Nags Head Elementary School and giving the public a glimpse of what it’s like to serve in the military. All military families know of the sacrifices made, like “missed birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, graduations, proms and other milestone events,” he said. He shared light-hearted stories of making it to his own son’s birth just in time (and the appropriate name of his son “Justin”) and the time when he was in high school and he called his father in Korea on his emergency-only line to complain about an early prom curfew, not realizing he was waking him up at 2 a.m.

In a more serious tone, McGeachy told the crowd about the many relocations a military family must endure, and also about his deployment in Afghanistan. When a bombing took place where he was stationed, his wife had to wait and wonder for two days if he was okay after missing their weekly online chat. “These are the types of hardships faced by military families,” he said. But, in a spirit of optimism and thankfulness, McGeachy quoted his mom by saying, “The good times always outweigh the bad.”

As the orchestra played once more, McGeachy placed the large wreath in front of the town memorial plaque that states, “In Honor of All Who Have Served and Continue to Serve in the Defense of Our Nation.”

Stevens concluded the service with a benediction reading of Psalm 91, known as “The Soldier’s Psalm.”