Thursday, July 24 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:46:21 GMT
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night.More >>
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night. More >>
May 29, 2006
Albany -- South Georgians pause to honor military members who died serving our country. Around the nation, there were countless ceremonies and parades this Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a time when Americans officially remember those who gave their lives for freedom.
Here in Albany, the memorials started early. As the sun came up, Reveille rang out in Albany. Veterans raised the flag at American Legion Post 30 on Gillionville Road. Saluting with eyes to the banner, they then lowered the flag to half staff.
"Taps" was played in remembrance of the military men and women who died will serving our country. Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf and their families listened as Lt. Colonel Ted Wright, a retired Air Force officer, spoke of the hardships service members face. "These soldiers pay tribute every day in all weather: hot, humid, windy, dry. They count it a privilege to have that duty. Today all of us count it a privilege to be citizens of this country," Col. Wright said.
An hour later across town, Veterans raise the flag at the Riverside Cemetery Veteran's Memorial. Former POW Silas K. Barnes said, "This was to give respect to our old veterans who died before us."
Then the procession moved to Veteran's Park downtown. Single file, the group walked to the Vietnam Memorial. Vietnam vet Leo Harrison placed a wreath on the site in honor of the more than 58,000 service members who died in Vietnam. "Every freedom you enjoyed, someone paid for with blood somewhere behind us. We continue to this day to have people who go to the forefront to help us maintain freedom," said Harrison.
The final wreath was placed at the eternal flame in front of the courthouse. With hands over their hearts, veterans promised to remember and pay homage to their fallen comrades as long of the flame is burning. "Remember them," said Harrison. "Remember the reason they are able to get out there and grill and have a day off. Remember the freedoms that came from someone who paid the ultimate price."
"We will probably have many more people, I hate to say this, who will die for their country," Barnes said.
Though many of these veterans have gray hair and wrinkles around their eyes, it was this young man Joseph Mason who couldn't fight back tears at a memorial at Crown Hill Cemetery. "I regret that I couldn't serve with them," said Vet Joseph Mason. "My prayers go with them. I consider them family. Serving in the military is just one contribution I was able to make to my country. I served proudly."
Mason was medically discharged from the Army three years ago as his fellow soldiers at Foot Hood prepared to deploy to Iraq.
Now Mason proudly stands by the men who charged the enemy decades before him and above those who did not live to see victory. "What would life be like if those soldiers had not stood in our defense, if they had not fought for us?" Mason said.
Thousands of troops fought and died for our freedom and many more continue the battle to preserve it. American Legion Post 30 also laid a memorial wreath at Floral Memory Gardens.