MANNINGTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — It’s common when Memorial Day rolls around for people to mention that they don’t feel that people understand the true purpose of the holiday anymore, but it’s less common that they put their feelings so eloquently that it sticks with people enough to reach out to the news.

That’s what happened on Sunday when Harry Bertschy spoke at First Baptist Church of Mannington. One member of the church called 12 News after the morning service, saying that Bertschy’s sentiment was so well put, she felt more people needed to hear it.

Bertschy said that he fears that in no time at all, Memorial Day will just be another day.

He talked about what it was like to grow up in Dover, Massachusetts, where there was a parade, not including a band, but World War I and World War II veterans. A minister would then give a speech, Bertschy said, and emphasize that the community should never forget, and honor those who gave their lives, then, buglers would play taps, creating an echoing effect.

“Even at 10 years old, I realized people had died for me,” Bertschy said.

Then, he spoke about going on his Honor Flight in October, an event that 12 News reporter and veteran Joe Lint documented. The national non-profit takes WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans on trips to Washington, D.C. to see the war memorials at no cost.

“My focus was on the Vietnam wall,” Bertschy said. “It’s quite a structure, consisting of 70 panels with over 58,000 names on it, and when you look at a name on the wall, you have to understand that that name was somebody’s son, maybe a brother, maybe an uncle, possibly he was married and had a child. And you stop and think ‘What was his thoughts for his life ahead? What was his plans? And then you look at the big picture and in the United States of America, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cities and towns that have monuments erected, walls if you will, and on those walls are the names of people who gave their lives defending our country. Each name has a story. And you come to understand that it is more than a name on a wall.”

The church then played “More Than A Name On A Wall” by The Statler Brothers and Bertschy led the final prayer.

Click here to learn more about how you can get involved in 2023’s Honor Flight.

Watch Bertschy’s full speech in the video in the player above. Video used with permission from First Baptist Church of Mannington.