Celebrating their memory

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Greenville Lions Club members kept their collective fingers crossed on Monday morning. Weather forecasts were predicting a good chance of more rainy weather, potentially putting their Memorial Day Celebration in Confederate Park in jeopardy.

There were plenty of blustery winds that had folks hanging onto their hats and tightly clutching the American flags handed out by the host organization.

Luck and Mother Nature proved to be on the Lions' side, however. The rain held off.

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&uot;Hey, prayers do get answered…look at this,&uot; noted Greenville Lion Bob Glasscock with approval as he pointed toward a sky without raindrops Monday morning.

The break in the weather allowed local citizens the chance to enjoy live music, a patriotic program and a lunch of grilled hot dogs and burgers in the park.

Things kicked off mid-morning with the first of several bands performing in the park for attendees’ enjoyment.

At 11 a.m. following a welcoming address from Lion Herbert Morton, the Rev. Tim Patton of First Baptist Church gave the invocation with Patricia Ballew of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church performing the National Anthem. The audience joined in on the rarely sung second verse – &uot;the one that answers the questions posed in the first verse,&uot; said Morton.

Morton also took the time to recognize all veterans who have served the nation, noting wreaths had been placed on every war memorial in the city for the occasion of Memorial Day.

Special emphasis was given to the county’s veterans serving in nation’s very first war – the one for independence.

&uot;We also have 14 Revolutionary War veterans who are buried in this county. Given the fact this county wasn’t founded until 1819, we must assume these men lived rather long lives for their time…many came from North and South Carolina, where many of this area’s earliest settlers came from,&uot; said Morton.

The county’s Revolutionary War veterans were Brinkley Gandy, John Garner, Thomas Gary, Theophilus Goodwin, Thomas Hamilton, John Linton, Ben Martin, Abraham Peavy, Theophilus Petty, Sr., Andrew Sheppard, Adam Skein (Skanes), William Thomas, William Wagster and Noah Whiddon.

Andrew Brooks performed &uot;Taps&uot; following the reading of the Revolutionary War Veterans’ names.

Senator Wendell Mitchell was on hand to introduce the guest speaker for the day, Alabama’s Director of Homeland Security, Jim Walker, Jr.

Director Walker, himself a retired Army officer, recalled his days assisting with military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

&uot;Soldiers always have duties they complain about, but no one ever complained who served on the detail in charge of putting flags on the graves of military veterans at the cemetery.

&uot;If a loved one takes home one of those flags as a memento, I assure you during the night a soldier will come along and replace it,&uot; Walker said.

Walker also pointed out many of the nation’s WW II soldiers were passing away.

&uot;So are our Korean vets, and then Vietnam…I know many of you are vets. I can tell by your hats, by the way you stand…I know you are here today, not because you want to bring glory to yourselves; you are humble people,&uot; said Walker. &uot;You are here because of your friend, your neighbor, that guy you knew who didn’t get to come back. And that is why you will keep coming back to event like this, because you don’t want their sacrifice to be forgotten."

Walker also said citizens in places like Greenville and Butler County, with their willingness to do their jobs and serve their nation as needed, are &uot;the heartbeat of America&uot;.

Mrs. Frances Garner of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church led the crowd in a rousing performance of &uot;God Bless America&uot; before the Rev. Fred Lindstrom of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church led in the benediction and blessing of the meal.

Both WSFA-TV and WAKA-TV in Montgomery sent personnel to cover the celebration, one the Greenville Lions hope to make an annual event in the city.

Some are already thinking ahead to next year.

&uot;We just might add some activities for the children – those moon walks, things like that – to give them something fun to do,&uot; said Lion Dennis McCall, who assembled the entertainment lineup for this year’s celebration.

&uot;I think things went very well; the weather cooperated and we had a pretty good turnout,&uot; said Lion Rickey Cargile.

Other supporters for this year’s Memorial Day Celebration included Coca-Cola of Montgomery, Frito-Lay, Golden Flake, Nabisco, Zeigler, Colonial Bread and Wal-Mart.