Both guest speakers at Richmond Hill’s Memorial Day observance in J.F. Gregory Park reminded attendees to “take a few minutes” during the day to recall what the holiday is all about.
“Memorial Day means different things to different people,” said Lt. Col. Cameron Weathers, deputy brigade commander of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division on Fort Stewart. “For some it’s an extra day off, a day at the beach, a chance to barbecue with friends.
“Regardless, take a few minutes to honor those who have afforded us the freedoms we have today,” he continued, choking up a few times during his short address. “They are heroes, and I don’t use that word easily.”
Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Arthur Hurt Jr. had a similar message.
“Whatever your plans are, take a few minutes to reflect on the sacrifices the fallen have made for our country,” he said.
Hurt, senior vice commander of Richmond Hill’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7331, also noted that members of Boy Scout Troop 486 would be accompanying VFW members Monday afternoon to place flags on veterans’ graves at cemeteries.
“It’s a small token that sends a massive message that we deeply appreciate their sacrifice,” he said.
The ceremony began with opening remarks by Richmond Hill Mayor Howard Fowler and included an invocation by Pastor Steve Lane of New Beginnings Community Church. “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung by Emily Speer, literally ending with the punctuation of a train whistle from a passing locomotive that passed by just as she ended.
Weathers later joked that Fort Stewart had arranged the timing of the train as “our version of a flyover.”
The ceremony ended with a benediction by Lane, the laying of a wreath by Fowler and Weathers at the Veterans Memorial and a 21-gun salute by Fort Stewart soldiers. Cpl. Tim Saia of the Richmond Hill Police Department closed it out by playing taps.