Fallen soldier honored at Simpsonville Memorial Day ceremony - FOX Carolina 21

Fallen soldier honored at Simpsonville Memorial Day ceremony

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SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

At Simpsonville's Memorial Day celebration, one seat sat empty at the front.  Instead of a veteran sitting there, there was a picture of a man who gave his life for his country.

"Memorial Day is not a holiday," said Simpsonville Mayor Perry Eichor.  "Many people think it is, but it's not a holiday.  It is a day dedicated to remembering citizens such as Justin and remembering the greater calling to which they sacrificed their life."

Pvt. 1st Class Justin Whitmire, a native of Simpsonville, was killed Dec. 27, 2011, in Afghanistan.  
Whitmire is one of many who have given their lives - that is not lost on the people here. But for his family, the pain of their loss has been met with nothing but love from the town.

Donnie Whitmire admits to never grasping Memorial Day's true meaning until the day he lost his son. "When something like this happens, and you really find out what it means to be in this situation, you take a whole new side on things," he said.

In the months since Justin Whitmire's death, his family says the pain has not gone away - but they say his sacrifice was not in vain.

Monday, the city of Simpsonville made sure of that by placing a brick at the Veterans Monument in honor of his son. His brick is one among many there, engraved with the names of those who have fought and died for the United States.

"To know that my son died a hero, and that I can walk up here and see his name along with the name of these other guys who did so much for their country - what more could a dad ask for?" said Donnie Whitmire. "It puts a smile on my face.  I'm definitely a proud dad."

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