Sacrifice, and selfless service.
Those are the words Matthew Levi uses to describe Memorial Day, and he would know. He bore witness to it firsthand.
The 45-year old Levi serves as the Town Planner for West Jefferson, but before entering the world of urban planning he spent 12 years as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, actively serving in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Levi, attained the rank of Chief Warrant Officer before being medically retired because of a benign brain tumor.
Memorial Day is Monday, May 26.
The holiday has its roots in the years following the American Civil War, when states throughout the North and South began reserving one day out of the year to honor the 625,000 individuals who died in the conflict.
Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1966 and has been observed the last Monday in May since 1971.
It is now observed to honor the more than 1.3 million American men and women who died in service to their country in all armed conflicts.
The holiday is a lot more than a time to casually kick back and relax with friends and family on a Monday.
It’s a day to reflect on those American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ashelawn Memorial Chapel and Gardens will be holding its 47th annual Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday, May 25 beginning at 2:30 p.m.
Representatives from the Ashe County High School JROTC program and members of local veterans groups will be on hand to commemorate the fallen during the ceremony.
The event is open to the public at no cost.
Levi continued to maintain a close relationship with those he served alongside in Desert Storm, as well as local veterans of other conflicts.
When asked what Memorial Day means to him, Levi pauses.
“Sacrifice,” Levi said before taking a brief moment to reflect. “And selfless service.”
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.