By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Monday, May 29, over a hundred residents attended a Memorial Day program at Colonel Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park in Gadsden.
The Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association sponsored the event. The association thanked the McLaughlin Detachment, Marine Corps League, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Honor Guard and Rifle Team, the Gadsden City High School Junior ROTC and everyone that volunteered time to make the program a success.
Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association (GEPA) Chairman John Graham and Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton welcomed attendees.
Guyton thanked the Gadsden-Etowah Patiots Association for everything it does, including starting the Colonel Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park a few years ago and helping bring the Moving Vietnam Wall to Gadsden recently.
“We are so proud of all that you do for our county and our city,” said Guyton. “We must never forget the sacrifices the military men and women and the families have made to keep us free and safe. And to never forget those who are no longer with us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Guyton thanked everyone for coming out and commended the “very patriotic town and county.”
Gadsden City High Schol Junior ROTC posted the colors, while Brittany Harbison sang the National Anthem. GEPA Co-Vice Chairman Max Dover then led the invocation.
Rick Vaughan presented the program’s keynote speaker, Retired Major General James Darden. He served in the military for 38 years, beginning in 1966 fighting in Vietnam under special operations. He retired in 2004.
“As we gather today, we do so to memoralize those that have been killed in combat and those that have died as a result of combat wounds,” said Darden. “Since the history of our country, that totals about 1,200,000 servicemen.”
Darden said that these servicemen died preserving the values of our country fighting tyranny. Darden spoke of the importance of remembering these servicemen’s sacrifices and continuing to fight for values of America. He implored the crowd to remember that “it’s the home of the free because of the brave.”
Darden went on to talk about the importance of supporting the military.
“We have a military that is under stress,” said Darden.
Darden said that the military size may be large, but it cannot be properly utilized without the right equipment, which has not been replaced in 15 years.
After Darden addressed the crowd, a wreath was ceremoniously placed in a position of honor. The Etowah Count Sheriff’s Honor Guard gave a 21 gun salute, followed by Keith Mayo performing Taps on the bugle. The GCHS Junior ROTC retired the colors.
To close the program, Glencoe Mayor Charles “Peanut” Gilchrist gave the benediction, and Wayne Hammonds performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.