Annual Memorial Day event planned for Monday

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The Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association’s annual Memorial Day program will feature a portrayal of a fallen serviceman instead of the usual guest speaker-based program.

In years past, the program consisted of a special guest speaker, but this year there will be a presentation by Craig Scott, director of the Gadsden Public Library. During the presentation, Scott will be portraying George Frank Towers, a former Gadsden policeman who is known as Alabama’s first casualty of World War II.

Towers was born in Leesburg and grew up in Boaz, according to a Facebook page that relates stories about veterans. He served one stint in the U.S. Navy, then became a Gadsden police officer for a while before rejoining the Navy as World War II began in Europe.

Towers was a chief gunner’s mate on the USS Reuben James, a post-World War I destroyer that had been assigned to the Neutrality Patrol off the coast of Iceland. On Oct. 31, 1941, the destroyer was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine west of Iceland, killing 115 of the 160 people on board (according to National Archives records). The attack occurred more than a month before the U.S. officially entered the war.

“It is quite a story,” Scott said at the Tuesday, May 21, Gadsden City Council meeting. “I invite everyone to come to Patriots Park Monday morning to hear that story. It’s a great story, but a sad story.”

Scott also portrays Towers during the annual cemetery tours in October.

Towers was inducted into the Patriots Association’s Hall of Honor in 2023.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. on May 27 at Colonel Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park next to Noccalula Falls Park.

Gadsden City High School’s Junior ROTC unit will be on hand to present and retire the colors, there will be a wreath placement and a rifle salute by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Honor Guard, the national anthem and taps, and a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

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