Remembering – Village salutes military, families

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Chinook Helicopter caught the attention of spectators as it landed in a field near The American Village in Montevallo.

A giant Alabama Air National Guard KC-135 Air Refueling Tanker filled the sky as it roared overhead.

And Shelby County resident, Maj. Johnny Ray Bass of Company F-131st Aviation, National Guard, returned the flag he was given by Gov. Bob Riley to fly over his unit’s command center in Afghanistan.

Bass completed his yearlong mission without a single loss of life.

These were just a few highlights from the Blue Star Salute to America’s military and their families held on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 21.

The Blue Star Salute represents the tradition of families posting a blue banner at their home to represent someone in that home serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Gold Stars represent the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.

Other activities scheduled for the day included the dedication of a Revolutionary War Monument and wreath-laying ceremony; a welcome by Gordon Martin, chairman of the board of The American Village; invocation by Maj. Paul Lasley, 75th Ranger Company Reg., Ft. Benning; presentation of colors by Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard and Homewood High School Patriot Band flute and drum, Ron Pence, band director; Pledge of Allegiance by Stefan Formentano, Boy Scout Troop 532; keynote and dedicatory remarks by Trustee Johnny Curry; wreath laying at the Revolutionary War Monument by representatives of the Navy, Army and Marines accompanied by the Heritage Pipe and Drum Band; 1789 prayer for the country by William Stewart, lead historical interpreter for the American Village; wreath-laying at the Donn Porter Congressional Medial of Honor Korean War 9th Ranger Monument by Doug Haskew and Lasley;

Wreath-laying at the Vietnam Memorial Wall led by Rachel Clinkscales, president of Gold Star Wives, and Clara Hill, president of Gold Star Mothers; Marion Military White Knight Precision Drill Team led by Jeff Hansen; the tolling of a bell for each of the 42 known Alabamians killed on Sept. 11, 2000; a prayer of Thanksgiving for men and women whose service is marked by blue and gold stars led by Tom Walker, director of the American Village; a flyover by vintage aircraft and a reenactment of the flag raising at Iwo Jima; music by the 151st Army Band.

The event was hosted by Sons of the American Revolution – Alabama Society; American Legion – Department of Alabama; and The American Village.

Bass, who makes his home in Highland Lakes, said Gov. Riley gave his unit a flag to fly over its command post in Afghanistan and it was being returned to the possession of the state.

Gov. Riley congratulated Bass on a job well done. He said he remembered giving Bass the flag, which will serves as a reminder of the patriotism of Alabamians.

He said for years there hasn’t been another state more patriotic or more dedicated than Alabama.

He asked, &uot;Have you ever wondered what makes us (America) different from every other country in the world?&uot; His answer was… That Americans have &uot;something worth dying for.&uot;

He spoke of understanding the need to support America’s military. He said in a few years another generation would have to make a choice. And he asked that parents bring their children to events such as the Blue Star Salute so that &uot;We will never have to worry about another generation.&uot;

Walker called the Blue Star Salute to order.

The Rev. Walter Reeder of the Alabama Society of the Sons of the American Revolution brought the invocation and State Treasurer Kay Ivey led the pledge of allegiance.

The National Anthem was led by Chryl Border, American Legion Post 343 in Clanton.

Welcoming remarks were made by Byron White, state commander of the American Legion, who was accompanied by Charles W. Barrett, National Vice Commander of the American Legion.

Also giving welcoming remarks were Jim Maples, state president, accompanied by Jim Randall, executive officer of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

LTC (Retired) R. G. Niven of ALSSAR Blue Star Coordination recognized participating organizations.

Service flags and the POW Flag were presented by the Holt High School Junior ROTC.

And Gov. Bob Riley was introduced by Maj. General Mark Bowen, adjutant general of the State of Alabama.

The salute to American’s military and their families was presented with sponsorship and or involvement by:

Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance, Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs, Alabama National Guard, Alabama State Defense force, American Legion Auxiliary, American Merchant Marine Veterans, Children of the American Revolution, Civil Air Patrol, Combat Infantry Association, Daughters of the American Revolution, Disabled American Veterans, Employee Support for the Guard and Reserve, Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives, Heritage Pipes and Drums, Hold High School Junior ROTC, Homewood High School Patriot Band, Korean War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Marion Military Institute, Medal of Honor Society, Military Order of the Purple Heart, 151st Army Band, Operation Grateful Heart, POW Society, Sons of the American Legion, Tuskegee Airmen, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

Also involved were Active and Reserve Components of the United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy and United States Coast Guard