Fallen heroes honored

The All Service Color Guard presents the colors at the beginning of the Memorial Day ceremony at Alabama National Cemetery on May 30. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By EMILY BECKETT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Intense summer heat did not stop people from visiting the Alabama National Cemetery at 9 a.m. May 30 for the third annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring fallen United States veterans.

Hundreds endured an hour in the sweltering sun to pay tribute to loved ones who gave their lives in service.

Master of Ceremonies David Baird, ABC 33/40 news anchor, provided the program’s opening and closing remarks.

Congressman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., served as keynote speaker.

According to Bob Barefield, chairman of the ALNC support committee, Bachus authorized and advocated the construction of the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.

The crowd gives Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., a standing ovation as he takes the podium to deliver his keynote speech. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

This year, guests had the opportunity to see the cemetery’s improvements after an 18-month construction project.

Alabama National Cemetery Director Quincy Whitehead said the completion of the project was bittersweet.

“I have to admit we had a lot of good days,” Whitehead said. “If I had to do it all over again, I would want the same team.”

Christopher English, senior resident engineer, and Carlos Rabren, C&C Construction owner, guided the project to its completion.

“Welcome to what I think is one of the best cemeteries in our system,” English said. “My wife and I decided that this would be our final resting place.”

English said all the stonework is comprised of stone quarried in Alabama and placed by men and women born and raised in Alabama.

Thirty-seven American flags and new flag poles now line the cemetery entrance and serve as reminders of fallen veterans.

“These heroes were also brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters and children,” Bachus said. “May God bless them all, and may God bless America.”

The ceremony concluded with a wreath laying ceremony, benediction, rifle salute and “Taps.”

Emotional spectators listen during the Memorial Day ceremony. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Participants and spectators gather in the Alabama National Cemetery at American Village in Montevallo for a Memorial Day Ceremony on May 30. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Members of the POW/MIA organization are escorted to a wreath in the honor of their organization by members of the Civil Air Patrol during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Alabama National Cemetery at American Village. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

The seventh annual Blue Star Salute began at 11:30 a.m. at the American Village in Montevallo.

The 151st Alabama Army National Guard Band and the Montevallo Community Chorale filled Hal Moore Liberty Hall with beautiful renditions of patriotic and military service songs.

Baird again provided opening and closing remarks for this tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Members of the color guard place the flags in their supports during Monday's ceremony at Liberty Hall. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry introduced keynote speaker and retired Maj. Gen. Larry W. Northington of the U.S. Air Force.

Thomas G. Walker Jr., American Village executive director, welcomed guests. Blue Star Salute Foundation President Robert Horton spoke about the foundation and its work.

The foundation presented an award to retired Army officer Noah Galloway of Alabaster for his selfless service. Galloway was wounded in Iraq.

“I accept this on behalf of the men I served with,” Galloway said. “In my mind, I have nothing to complain about.”

Army officer Noah Galloway returns to his seat after being honored during Monday's ceremony at Liberty Hall. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)