Gainesville’s annual Memorial Day parade won’t be covering the streets in red, white and blue this year. But local veterans and others in the community will still honor those who sacrificed their lives for their country.
Johnny Varner, veteran service office for American Legion Post 7, said the parade was canceled to protect older and at-risk veterans from COVID-19. This year, he shared that the American Legion will erect a Field of Honor like they did in 2020 and hold a free barbecue event open to veterans and their family members at the post’s property at 2343 Riverside Drive in Gainesville.
The gathering will be noon to 2 p.m. Monday, May 31, at the pavilion.
Last year’s Field of Honor was at the end of the pedestrian bridge along Jesse Jewell Parkway. Varner said this year, the greenspace around the American Legion will be covered in 150 12-by-18-inch American flags. He said each will symbolize a local veteran who died in service.
On Monday, May 31, Varner said he hopes the community will take time to pause and reflect on the day’s true meaning. He reminds people that it’s not a time for celebration.
“It’s a memorialization of all the veterans who have served for the various causes of freedom, no matter what the timeline and the generation it was,” Varner said. “I hope it stays sacred.”
On Sunday, May 30, people can visit Rock Creek Veterans Park at 223 Northside Drive in Gainesville. The Rock Creek Vietnam Veterans group will hold a short ceremony at 2:30 p.m.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will march in the veterans’ section of Memorial Park South Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Derreck Booth, Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said the Honor Guard will not hold its 24-hour vigil but instead complete maneuvers and steps from 6 a.m. to noon. Members of the public are invited to view this ceremony.
Lula also will be holding an event on Memorial Day. The Lula-Belton Historical Society has organized a remembrance ceremony for 10 a.m. Memorial Day at the city's Veterans Park.
Memorial Day activities
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 30
Where: Rock Creek Veterans Park, 223 Northside Drive, Gainesville
Hall County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard
When: 6 a.m. to noon Monday, May 31
Where: Memorial Park South Cemetery, 4121 Falcon Parkway, Flowery Branch
What: Presentation of the colors, patriotic music, a short message from a local veteran and prayer, put on by the Lula-Belton Historical Society
When: 10 a.m. Monday, May 31
Where: Veterans Park on Athens and Main streets.
American Legion Post 7 barbecue
Who: For veterans and their families
When: Noon to 2 p.m. Monday, May 31