By Don CollinsHighway 19 South and Highway 18 East at the Pike County Courthouse were closed for a short period of time Monday, May 25, 2009 to pay tribute to the Veterans of Pike County who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free. Marine Lance Corporal Jeffery D. Walker’s name was added to the 41 others engraved on the Veteran’s Memorial located on the southwest corner of the Square.Earlier approximately 150 Veterans, their families and The Griffin High School JROTC Marching Rifles gathered in the Courtroom of the Pike County Courthouse to honor those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. The inclement weather had forced the ceremony to move inside.The colors were posted by the GHS JROTC Marching Rifles followed by the pledge of Allegiance. The Reverend Fred Fowler gave the invocation. The crowd joined in singing ‘America the Beautiful’. Don Bailey, American Legion Post 197 Commander, followed by reading the proclamation signed by President Barack Obama declaring this the 211th Memorial Day.Mr. Bailey then introduced Billy Maddox, Georgia State Representative for the 127th District.Representative Maddox had been sitting if front of a Marine Tribute to Fallen Heroes, an upright box holding a rifle, bayonet into the earth, topped by a Combat Helmet, the military way of marking a fallen warrior. His first comments indicated how deeply he was touched. He said, ‘I have never cried prior to making remarks to a crowd but this has touched me deeply.’ That expressed the sentiments of the crowd gathered to hear him speak. He continued by thanking those who had served and asking our prayers and thoughts be with those in harm’s way. His closing remark, ‘Freedom is not Free’ reinforced to those present that there are now 42 names engraved on the Veteran’s Memorial.Mrs. Teresa Rutledge, mother of Corporal Walker, expressed her pride in her son serving his Country to the point of giving the ultimate sacrifice. She has started ‘Fallen Heroes Family Foundation’ an organization to help the families of those who have sacrificed their all answering the call of duty.Doug Rounds, Historian of Post 197 read the names of fifteen Veterans from Pike County that have died since Memorial Day 2008. They were from all branches of the service and their service was commended.Kathy Waterhouse gave a splendid rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ to complete the indoor ceremony.The crowd moved outside to the Veteran’s Memorial Monument to complete the ceremony. Lance Corporal Walker’s name was officially dedicated by the unveiling of his name on the Memorial. A Wreath was officially placed in front of his name and another Wreath was placed to honor all who have served. The playing of ‘Taps’ was followed by the crowd joining in the singing of ‘God Bless America.’ American Legion Post 197 was recently reestablished after many years of dormancy. The Commander is Don Bailey and there is a desire and need to attract all Veterans to join the Post. The address of the Post is: American Legion Post 197, PO Box 781, Zebulon, GA 30295 or email: email@example.com.The restoration of the Pike Veterans Memorial Monument is the primary project for Post 197. It was placed in its present position in 1949 and the years have taken a toll. Plans are being developed to refurbish the Memorial and contributions are welcomed. The Post can also furnish information for those interested in helping the ‘Fallen Hero’s Family Foundation’.
Memorial Day Observed
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