City honors fallen veterans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Staff Writer

May 29, 2000 10 PM

Surrounded by American flags whipping wildly in the breeze residents gathered at Bicentennial Park Monday morning to remember those who gave their lives in the name of freedom.

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After pausing a moment to remember the deceased veterans, speakers paid tribute to those who make Memorial Day so meaningful.

"This is one day we should always gather and remember," said Commander Fred Kreps of the American Legion Post #70.

Living is a "mostly peaceful time it is easy to forget why we’re a free people," Kreps said during the ceremony.

But, it’s because of those more than 116,000 Americans who perished in World War I; the 400,000 who lost their lives in World War II; the 37,000 who died in Korea and the 53,000 who gave their lives during the Vietnam War that America is a free nation.

Kreps said Memorial Day gives citizens the opportunity to pay tribute and "remember what we’ve been given" by those fallen heroes of war.

The Rev. Don Hatcher of Hephzibah Baptist Church said he is "humbled" thinking about those who sacrificed their lives for his freedom.

On behalf of the City of Troy, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford welcomed those at the ceremony in the park that should be a reminder "that patriotism does live in Troy" as flags representing the community’s war dead proudly waved in a strong, steady wind.

Following remarks from Probate Judge Bill Stone and State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, Martha Shipman brought chills as she sang "God Bless the U.S.A."

Just before memorial wreaths were placed before the arch bearing the names of those killed in action, Esther Watkins, whose son was killed in Vietnam, was honored as a Gold Star Mother.

Dr. William Flinn, vice president of technology at Troy State University, shared his feelings of Memorial Day.

The 22-year veteran of the United States Air Force said the holiday is a day to "recognize those who served honorably" and lost their lives on foreign soil, in the skies and at sea.

What saddens Flinn is crowds at ceremonies like the one Monday morning are getting smaller. He said it is time for Americans who attend such ceremonies to bring a young person along so years down the road the events will still be in existence.

Flinn said it is important to remember the "men who never expected to die" and lived honorable lives by fighting for freedom.

The ceremony closed with patriotic songs sung by Shipman, Debbie Chance and Frank Nihart followed by a benediction.