American Village pays tribute to veterans

The 151st Alabama Army National Guard Band plays as the Color Guard Units present the national colors and military service flags. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO –Liberty Hall was standing room only as the 151st Alabama Army National Guard Band kicked off the Blue Star Salute at the American Village May 28.

“This is the fourth year the American Village has started its Blue Star Salute immediate after the ceremony at the Alabama National Cemetery,” said Tom Walker, founder and CEO of the American Village.

“I’ve seen people gather all along the roads coming in (to the cemetery),” he said. “I’ve seen the hearse go by and seen ordinary folks like us wave a flag, shed a tear and salute. We will remember your fallen, to say thank you and to honor them with our own walks of life.”

Rachel Clinkscale of Gold Star Wives of America led the crowded hall in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Montevallo Community Chorale sang each military branch’s song recognize veterans present.

Walker said Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are the three holidays that should be recognized all year long.

“Why is it necessary for us to build memorials? It’s because we tend to forget. They will prompt our children to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘What does this mean?’” Walker said. “It’s because others have been grievously wounded that we owe them our remembrance and our thanks. For if we lose our memory, we lose our country.”

Robert Horton, president of the Blue Star Salute Foundation, presented a sword to Sherry White, wife of Byron W. White. Byron White was the cofounder and president of the Blue Star Salute, and he passed away in July 2011.

Beth Chapman

Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman said even eternal allegiance is not enough thanks for veterans and those who have fallen.

“I have all the confidence in the world that God has a special place in heave for those who served,” she said. “Not all are called upon to pay the ultimate sacrificed, but all were willing.

“We give you more than flowers,” she added. “We give you our eternal gratitude and the love and respect of the entire nation.”