Pelham honors its fallen heroes

PELHAM – A new tradition began on Saturday, May 26, at the Pelham Cemetery to honor the city’s veterans in recognition of Memorial Day.

The Sons of the American Legion with Matthew Blount Post 555 hosted the inaugural Graveside Flag Placement Ceremony that involved placing American flags on the graves of military veterans buried at the cemetery.

Boy Scouts Troop 404, Girl Scouts Troop 30921, Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge 1738 and citizens assisted with placing the flags at the marked graves of veterans. Will Hayes, commander of the Sons of the American Legion said at least 70 veterans dating back to the Civil War are buried at Pelham Cemetery. Some of the veterans in the cemetery even served in two conflicts.

That fact was brought to the organization’s attention by Mayor Gary Waters.

“Some are in unmarked graves so we’ll never be able to recognize them,” Waters said.

Since becoming mayor in 2012, Waters has single-handedly placed flags at graves in the cemetery for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veterans Day and the Independence Day.

“One day I told Kenneth Paschal (member of Post 555) to come with me to help lay some flags and he thought to get the Legion involved,” Waters said.

Hayes thanked Waters for taking the initiative to honor the city’s fallen heroes.

“Thank you for caring about our heroes, however, it isn’t the mayor’s responsibility alone,” Hayes said. “We should all play a part. As citizens of Pelham we should never forget our heroes who fought with honor and distinction for all.”

Waters placed the first flag on the grave of Korean conflict veteran Roy David Jowers.

“He was the first fire chief of Pelham, a former City Council member, and he was the person who hired me to work as a firefighter,” Water said.

Next year Hayes said he’d like to see the event grow by having more residents participate.

“Today was a great starting point for us,” he said. “Once the word spreads, I think we’ll have more people who want to get involved.”