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Events set to honor fallen veterans for Memorial Day

POSTED: May 26, 2013 12:31 a.m.

Memorial Day ceremonies are planned at various locations across the county for the Monday holiday.

Members of the Honor Guard with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office will hold their annual tribute at Memorial Park Cemetery, 2030 Memorial Park Drive, beginning at midnight tonight. The 24-hour vigil will be similar to what is done at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

“They have a marching platform set up in front of the veteran’s memorial,” explained Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks with the sheriff’s office. He said that the Honor Guard deputies replicate the exact maneuvers done at Arlington, down to the same number of footsteps.

Members of the public are welcome to come at any time to view the vigil, or the changing of the guard, which will occur every 45 minutes from midnight to noon Monday, and then every 30 minutes until 6 p.m. They will then go back to every 45 minutes until the end of the vigil.

Sheriff Gerald Couch will speak during a brief ceremony at noon Monday, when he will read the official declaration for Memorial Day from 1868. Also assisting this year will be the Gainesville Police Department Honor Guard and the Georgia Army National Guard.

Wilbanks said that up to 200 people have attended the midday ceremony in the past.

For the second year in a row, the Lula community will hold a ceremony beginning 10 a.m. Monday at Lula Veterans Park, 6007 Main St. in Lula.

This year’s guest speaker, Col. Randal Simmons Jr., was the commanding officer of former Lula resident Maj. Kevin Jenrette. Jenrette was killed during his service in Afghanistan in 2009.

“I have to remember all those that are not with us anymore,” said Norm Harrop, event organizer. “Being a disabled veteran myself, I think that they’re entitled to that. They’re entitled for us to remember what they gave so that we can be what we are. That we can be free.”

Harrop said about 200 people attended last year’s event in Lula, which will include the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presentation of the colors.

Additionally, the annual Gainesville Memorial Day parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday, starting at First Baptist Church on Green Street and ending at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Spring Street.

Local World War II veteran Cecil Boswell will make his annual appearance, wearing the same uniform he wore when discharged from the Army. Also, local pilot Tony Manzo will fly over at the beginning of the parade.

Following the parade, those in attendance are invited to continue the celebration and memorial at Roosevelt Square. The Northeast Georgia History Center, 322 Academy St, will have an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Two brief ceremonies will be held today at Rock Creek Park, 223 Northside Drive NW in Gainesville. Beginning 2 p.m., the Korean War Veterans of Georgia will read the names of the 12 Hall County servicemen who lost their lives during the Korean War, as well as lay a wreath at the recently dedicated memorial.

Immediately following the ceremony, there will be a memorial for Vietnam veterans.

“We’ll have a couple of speakers to talk about our 26 soldiers from Gainesville who were killed in Vietnam,” said Johnny Hulsey, a charter member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

“It honors those that have paid the supreme sacrifice,” said Paul Scroggs, president of the Korean group. “Not just the Korean and Vietnam veterans, but all veterans of all wars who have died in the name of freedom.”

Hulsey, who said he had four friends killed in Vietnam, said the day is for remembrance.

“Most of them were 19 years old,” he said, “and they gave their life for our freedom. We can’t ever forget that.”


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