‘They deserve recognition every day’

Published 10:50 pm Monday, May 28, 2012

With a live bugle reveille at the Green Hills Memorial Cemetery in the early hours of the morning, Memorial Day began for the city of Troy.

The ceremony held at Green Hills saw the arrival of veterans and their families from throughout Pike County, who were gathered to pay respect to soldiers who had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

After a call to colors and the singing of the national anthem, Vietnam Veteran and Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 2205 K.T. Cole took to the podium for a short presentation.

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“This day is important for recognizing the people that died for our country and made all this freedom we have possible,” Cole said following the ceremony. “These people are the true heroes in the world. This may be the one day we officially recognize them, but they deserve our recognition every single day. They were scared but they went in anyway.”

In his speech Cole took time to give insight into what it means to be a member of the armed forces, how he came to be in the Marines after seeing the “special swagger” of the WWII veterans when he was a child in Troy and the difficulty of returning home from the battlefield.

Cole also touched on the declining number of Vietnam, Korean and WWII veterans still alive. Of the more than 2.5 million Americans who served in Vietnam, only around 700,000 are still alive, and veterans of WWII are passing every day.

The ceremony concluded with a special recognition of the late John W. “Billy” Gibson, a WWII veteran. Gibson’s memory was honored with a plaque, which was received by his son and daughter at the ceremony.

“It’s something we never need to forget,” said daughter Susan Jinright. “Their sacrifices are why we have the freedom we have today. Everyone should take a moment today to say thank you and think about the sacrifices that have been made.”

The day continued with an open viewing of a wall commemorating all the Alabama soldiers lost in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan before a final closing ceremony at sundown.