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Memorial Day vigil held in solemn, precise ceremony
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Michael Crook with the Hall County Sheriff's Office performs Monday during the 10th annual Memorial Day vigil put on by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Fire Services in Veterans Garden at Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery. A brief memorial service was held at noon honoring veterans. - photo by Erin O. Smith

With solemn and deliberate moves, the honor guard at the Memorial Day vigil was changed — the end of the formal ceremony for the occasion.

The choreographed change is precise and follows the same process as that at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 10th annual Memorial Day vigil ceremony was held Monday. Sheriff Gerald Couch and Chief Jeff Hood of Hall County Fire Services spoke briefly.

The vigil began at midnight Sunday and went to midnight Monday.

Honor guard members from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Fire Services stood post and marched armed in the Veterans Garden at Memorial Park Cemetery.

About 100 people attended the ceremony.

The service started with “Taps” and ended with “Amazing Grace” — both on the bugle.

Couch termed the service “an important event in the life of our nation” and said the county, and country, should honor those who died “and we pay tribute to the families they left behind.”

He said the nearly 1 million people who died “while defending America in a time of war were real people with real families.”

Hood said the service members “understood their duty. They saw a dark cloud on the horizon and went to meet it.”

Both men called for regular remembrances of those sacrifices.

Hood said the country “should resolve that their sacrifices will always be remembered by a grateful nation.”

Couch noted that “remembering our fallen once a year is not enough.”

He asked that “we never lose focus on what Memorial Day actually means.”

The honor guard precisely and concisely followed its protocol to change members who marched the 21 steps in each direction and viewed the veterans’ memorial 21 seconds at the end of each march.