They knew cost of freedom Event honors those who died serving their country

Gail Heitman of Charleston visits her father Raymond Pianzio’s grave at Carolina Memorial Park in North Charleston on Memorial Day. Pianzio was a retired master sergeant in the Air Force.

The weather lived up to everyone’s expectations Monday. That’s why Folly Road was so thick with Memorial Day beach traffic.

But some of those cars stopped short of sun and sand for a special service at American Legion Post 147 on James Island to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces.

That’s really what Memorial Day is all about.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., shook hands with dozens of those who attended the event — many of them veterans — and spoke briefly during the ceremony.

“We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in this country,” Scott said.

He paid special tribute to Pfc. Barrett Austin, 20, of Easley, who died in April after the vehicle he was traveling in was attacked by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

“He gave his life because he believed and loved freedom,” Scott said. “I had the privilege several weeks ago ... to speak to his father about getting his son home, making sure that the transfers happen. I will tell you that talking to Mr. Austin about his son Barrett was one of the most moving experiences of my life because what Mr. Austin was talking about was his young son who voluntarily gave his life because he loved America, because he loves what we stand for and loves who we are and where we’re going. He took a strong stand on behalf of this amazing country.”

Scott’s message resonated with David Davis, 68, of Meggett, who attended the event.

“No greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friend,” said Davis, paraphrasing a Bible verse.

Davis served in an Army Reserve hospital unit between 1968 and 1975. His unit was never called overseas to Vietnam, but the experience taught him what it means to serve his country.

“I think we need to be more mindful of duty to our fellow man,” he said. “We’ve had it so easy. We forget.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.