Public invited to Memorial Day service
America’s fallen veterans will be recognized during a public Memorial Day service Monday, May 27, at the Veterans Memorial Bridge and Garden in Ellijay’s River Park.
The event will begin at 11 a.m., but attendees are invited to arrive as early as 10 a.m. to enjoy fellowship, patriotic recorded music and different displays that pay tribute to local veterans, organizations and families.
This will be the 11th year in which a Memorial Day event has been held at the patriotic park venue, said Sandy Lyons, veterans bridge founder.
“I’ve been doing a Memorial Day service at the park since before the bridge was built,” noted Lyons. “This year, we will have a lot of different groups and organizations helping out (including) the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as the Ellijay American Legion, the Boy Scouts and a lot of others. We (also hope to have) a 21-gun salute.”
The event’s guest speaker will be Jim Parmer. The current Gilmer Board of Education member and former principal at Oakland Elementary School served in the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, said Russell Hood, who will emcee the upcoming Memorial Day program. Sophie Burnett will sing the national anthem and invocation will be given by Korean War veteran Otis Suddeth, Hood added.
“It will probably be a 35-45 minute program and everyone is invited,” he continued.
Lyons said he expects to have around 200 chairs for seating. Parking will be available at the Lions Club and there will be some parking closer by for those unable to walk long distances, he added.
“The Lions Club had a new gate (put in) down there that will make it easier for people to get to (the event),” Lyons said.
“There will seating for those who may not be able to stand for a good length of time, as well as covered seating in case of inclement weather,” Hood said. “I know we have a bunch of (longtime) local veterans and some new ones who’ve moved in, so we hope they will come out and get to know each other.”
Hood, who’s previously hosted the Memorial Day service, the annual downtown Ellijay Veterans Day program and the ETC-3 veteran interview series Those Who Served, hopes people will take time to recognize fallen military men and women from here and across the U.S. this Memorial Day.
“It’s a day off for a lot of people, but it’s also (an opportunity) to pay it back, as well as pay it forward, for our fallen veterans. I always enjoy helping with anything that promotes veterans. I look at it as part of a healing process where we go through remembrance for those who paid that ultimate sacrifice. It’s the least we can do,” Hood said.
“Gilmer County really has a shining legacy about doing things for its veterans and that’s something I’m really proud of,” he added. “If you see somebody wearing a hat or something that shows (their military service), stop and tell them ‘thank you.’”