Memorial Day services held at Alabama National Cemetery

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Veterans, volunteers and members of the public all gathered at the hallowed fields of the Alabama National Cemetery on Monday, May 27. Attendees observed the sacrifices made by America’s armed service members and give their thanks as part of the cemetery’s 16th annual Memorial Day Ceremony.

Held at the Main Flag Assembly area of the cemetery, attendees met at 10:30 a.m. and were greeted by patriotic music performed by Homeland and a military flyover demonstrated by the Patriot Flyers. Those opening displays were further accompanied by a processional flag line manned by the Patriot Guard and the American Legion Riders.

Bailyn Murphy, winner of the District 21 and 2nd Division levels of the American Legion Oratorical Contest, served as the event’s master of ceremonies and delivered welcoming remarks to all of those attendance. Murphy, who represented AL Post 911 of the American Legion, is a junior at Hoover High School and recently achieved second place in the state level of the ALOC.

Cadet members of the Civil Air Patrol further served the ceremony as the color guard who carried out the presentation of the colors while the national anthem was performed by Miss Alabama Brianna Burrell.

Mg. David Burford, US Army retired, delivered the keynote address at the service which saw the laying of multiple ceremonial wreaths carried out by family members of military heroes who are interred at the Alabama National Cemetery—many of which were Gold Star family members whose loved ones were killed in battle.

In addition to all six branches of the United States military, wreathes were also presented for America’s prisoners of war and those missing in action as well as from the American Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. organizations.

“Freedom is not free, and we owe a debt of honor to both the heroes who sacrificed their lives to win and maintain our freedom and to their families for their sacrifice,” said ALNC Director Deborah Kendrick.

The ceremony then entered its final phase with a benediction from Duke Martin and a rifle salute delivered by the US Air Force Honor Guard from Maxwell Air Force Base.

Patrick McCaghren, a US Navy Veteran and Bugles Across America-Alabama member, played taps at the close of the event which was post scripted by a cannon salute fired by the Alabama Division of Re-enactors.

“(I am) forever grateful for the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” State Rep. Kenneth Paschal said. “We will never forget.”

Two days prior to the ceremony, a flag placement ceremony also took place on the grounds which saw hundreds in the community dedicate their time in planting American flags along monuments and the rows of white headstones. Youth community members were particularly involved in the process which saw children volunteers and members of scout troops from the surrounding communities all taking part in the mission to honor America’s soldiers.

“Coordinated by the Support Committee for the Alabama National Cemetery, over 11,000 flags were placed to commemorate those who sacrificed for our freedom,” Paschal said. “It was inspiring to see so many volunteers, especially the youth, participating. Their involvement underscores the importance of educating the next generation on honoring the fallen.”