By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Monday, May 27, people gathered at Ola Lee Mize Patriots Park at Noccalula Falls inn Gadsden to remember the reason for the Memorial Day holiday: the soldiers who have died fighting for our country.
City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton encouraged people to keep remembering our military and veterans, especially the younger generations.
“It seems like a lot of people don’t get into this,” said Guyton about the Memorial Day service. “It worries me that the older generation are the ones doing most everything.”
Guyton also talked about the origins of his name, which he received to honor his father’s older brother.
“I was in an appraisal class in North Carolina and a guy from New York asked me how I got the name Sherman, being from Alabama,” said Sherman. “And I said, when he went through Georgia, he made quite an impression on everybody. But I got my name from my uncle. My uncle was killed in the Argonne Forest in April of 1945 and I was born in July. That’s always been in my head for the name, and I’m glad to have it.”
The keynote speaker was recently retired Circuit Judge Bill Rhea.
“To be here at this place and to look at that monument up there,” said Rhea. “I remember and many of you remember when this was all built, when we started and the hard work that was done to raise the money. This is truly a slice of heaven here, and it’s an honor for me to be standing here with so many of you that have served and that we’re here to honor today those that have gone on. This is the specific day that we sit here and honor the dead and the folks that have served our country. They are the reason we’re able to be here today.”
Rhea went on to give a brief history of Memorial Day, which was started in 1868 to honor the soldiers that died in the Civil War. With time, the day started incorporating the fallen soldiers of all wars.
Rhea then shared a personal story of his cousin Joe, a person that he looked up to.
“I always knew that Joe lived with his mama, and that his daddy wasn’t around,” said Rhea. “I eventually found out that his dad had died.”
Joe was born in July of 1944. Joe’s dad trained in Camp Sibert, and while there met Joe’s mother and they fell in love. Eventually, he was called to fight, and she was pregnant when he left.
“And he never came back, because he died fighting over there,” said Rhea. “Joe’s daddy’s name is on that monument. And I’m very proud of that, that I had an uncle who fought.”
Joe’s father died in the summer of 1944, when Joe was born. He never got to meet his father.
After the service, the Patriots Association unveiled a new addition to the monument that lists the name of Joe’s father, as well as the other local soldiers that perished fighting for their country. The monument did not have space to add new names, so a pillar in the center of the space was added, for fallen soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan war. One name is listed on the addition, Jeffery Ausborn who died in 2011.