CRESTVIEW — Harmon Ferguson believes few people, especially civilians, know the true meaning of Memorial Day.
"I think it's a damn shame," he said. "Many (people) just go to the beach."
But the 90-year-old Crestview resident knew where he would be.
Today, Ferguson and Frances, his wife of 50 years, attended the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary Unit 57 of Crestview's observance at Liveoak Park Memorial Cemetery.
The Mississippi native, who has lived in Crestview the past 33 years, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 during World War II.
"I was with the heavy weapons infantry and I weighed 130 pounds at the time," Ferguson said.
During the war, he served in the South Pacific, including the Philippines and New Guinea. He left the U.S. Army after more than nine years and then joined the U.S. Air Force, working in supply management for 11 years.
Falling second to raising a family ─ eight children, 19 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren ─ being in the military, he'll tell you, is the best part of his life.
"I can honestly say that I have truly enjoyed all of my military life," Ferguson said.
Asked if he would change a thing about his military career, he said, "Never."
Grateful for service
It's difficult to remember fallen soldiers he served with in his 20-year military career and, as the years have passed, he said it has grown increasingly difficult to keep in touch with fellow service members.
Recovering from a broken hip, which has left him unable to walk, hasn't helped matters. However, it has not kept him from celebrating a holiday that he holds close.
"I have not missed a Memorial Day," Ferguson said.
He remains thankful to service members who defend our freedom — among them, his grandson, Nicholas Patterson, who serves in the Air Force.
"I thank them for all of their service; I appreciate it," he said.