LAKELAND, GA (WALB) - The city of Lakeland honored fallen American soldiers Monday as part of the city's annual Memorial Day ceremony. But, uniquely the city also honored all those who went through Nazis concentration camps during World War II.
As with any Memorial Day ceremony, Monday's ceremony was full patriotism, honor, and remembrance for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
But with 2015 being the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps across Europe, ceremony organizer Terry Burton decided it was important to incorporate a tribute to the Holocaust into Monday's ceremony, as many U.S. soldiers died fighting to end the war and liberate the camps.
"It's embracing everybody. We try not to leave anybody out as best we can," Burton explained.
A Jewish Star of David marker with the Jewish flag waving on top was placed next to dozens of crosses with American flags representing Lanier County residents who either served in the military or died in combat.
Crosses hand made by the local American Legion Post. "It's a very emotional time," said Post Commander Dan McSwords, when asked what it was like making the crosses. "A lot of the people, whenever they call us and tell us their loved one's name and everything, it's also an emotional time for them."
The Holocaust was also remembered during the ceremony itself as a way to further honor those who died fighting for the liberation.
"All young people really should learn. Ask their grandparents, ask their fathers," Burton emphasized when explaining how important honoring the Holocaust is in helping educate younger generations about the atrocity.
Also during the ceremony, Lanier County resident James Trigg was presented with the restored case holding the folded flag honoring his grandfather, who served in World War II, that had been damaged when someone broke into his house a few weeks prior to the ceremony.
"It's very touching. Really an emotional moment," Trigg expressed.
As of Monday, American Legion Post 336 in Lakeland was still working to collect names of and make crosses for Lanier County residents who either served in the military or died in combat. As of Monday, the post had made 120 crosses.