Charles Williams, soon-to-be commander of the Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), spoke to Fulton Rotarians on Wednesday about Memorial Day and the impact it has.
Williams has over 20 years of Naval experience. He is an English instructor for Afghan interpreters, VFW chairman for the Fulton Catholic Diocese charities refugee committee and a senior pastor at Clarksville Christian Church.
He will begin as commander on June 1.
Williams said Memorial Day is the official start of summer, but also signifies something bigger.
"However, it is known for honoring those fallen heroes on the battlefields around the world in support of freedom and democracy," he said.
Williams shared with Rotarians some little-known facts about Memorial Day.
He said the first Memorial Day celebrations were not held in the country until the late 19th century. He added that one of the first celebrations was organized by recently freed African Americans near the end of the Civil War.
Williams said Memorial is currently undergoing a "paradigm shift." He said all American flags are flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, but that it now isn't very different from the normal.
"Now, the flag stays at half-staff on constant basis due to mass shooting in children, teachers and employees at schools," he said.
He said the "egregious acts of those that don't want to produce or hold up democracy" need to stop.
"You're either going to help do away this this, or you're going to support it. That's the choice we have," Williams said.
Williams concluded his speech on Wednesday with a Q&A segment.
To learn more about Missouri VFW, visit movfw.org.