ROLESVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The Town of Rolesville held its first Veterans Day ceremony today at its new veterans memorial.
It was dedicated around Memorial Day and at the time, town leaders had no idea that by Veterans Day they’d be remembering a local fallen soldier.
Today’s ceremony was one of gratitude to the veterans who gathered in the heart of Rolesville.
“Rolesville is not a town. It’s a community,” said Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles.
Friday was a day for the community to remember a service member who could not be there.
“I think we’re all in a state of shock,” said Jim Dyer, state chaplain for Veterans of Foreign Wars North Carolina. Dyer spent 22 years on active duty.
Capt. Andrew Byers, 30, was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 3 during a firefight with the Taliban, officials said.
“He was very much enjoying what he did and had the pleasure to serve our country,” said Msgr. David Brockman, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest.
Dyer said he wanted to be at the ceremony to remember and honor Byers.
“Every life is precious and I just wanted to be here to honor the man that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Byers’ parents live in Rolesville and attend church in Wake Forest.
They’re going through the mourning and grieving process but they take great consolation of all the prayers that are surrounding them,” Brockman said.
They were in the Buffalo, New York-area, where they’re from, at the time of Friday’s ceremony. They were in New York for their son’s funeral mass, but they did share a message with their pastor.
“This ceremony is not just to be about Andrew, but to be about all who have served our country because they were very direct on saying that Andrew was doing his duty together with all of the rest of those who served with him,” said Brockman. “I’m grateful that we have the human emotions that we can grieve when we lose someone that’s given their life.”
Over his eight years of service, Capt. Byers earned more than a dozen medals, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He leaves behind a wife.