Veterans organizations present Memorial Day ceremonies in Cartersville

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Referring to Memorial Day as a time to “reflect and remember,” Cartersville resident Glen Thompson encourages area residents to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting on behalf of their country.

As the commander of the American Legion Carl Boyd Post 42, the U.S. Navy veteran is helping organize one of two Memorial Day observances in Cartersville.

“As we lose more of the ‘Great Generation,’ our WWII and Korean War veterans, each year, it reminds us of the sacrifices they made,” said Thompson, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1978 at the age of 17 and retired as a master chief petty officer in 2009. "Their service, dedication, determination allowed the generation who followed [to] live in a free country. We often forget in today’s world, when they served it wasn’t a plane ride lasting a couple days. It was months at sea on a troop carrier in fear of enemy torpedoes. Even the transport came with great risk. No regular communication with the family back home, no modern communications. Letters were few and often months old if delivered at all. Today, we often forget about those who never returned.”

On Monday, the Legion’s Memorial Day program will begin at 11 a.m. near the Post’s flagpole on Roosevelt Street, behind Hobby Lobby. Open to the public, the observance will feature a bell-ringing ceremony, honoring Bartow County’s deceased veterans.

“From WWI and WWII, we have over 218,000 veterans who are interned at one of the 25 cemeteries located across 16 foreign countries,” Thompson said. “As of April 8, 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, the total [number] of POW/MIA still unaccounted for is more than 82,000 Americans remain missing from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Gulf Wars/other conflicts.

“Our very own, Carl Boyd, whom our Post is named after, is interned [at] American Cemetery — Suresnes, France. Today, our services make every effort to bring the remains of our heroes home, locate those missing and to pursue the release of any American service members held captive. Memorial Day is a day to reflect and remember the sacrifices made out of love, devotion and patriotism remembering those who this day is about.”

For Thompson, programs, like Post 42’s, help “keep the memorial in Memorial Day.”

“Many today view it as merely the kick off to summer — schools out, the pools open, etc.,” he said. “When we, as guardians — veteran organizations — desert our history and its messages, it becomes as though it was written upon the sand.

“In a short time, nobody will remember the true reason for the day. How many reading this know the history of Memorial Day? When, how did it originate? How did we get to the fourth Monday in the month? As with these questions, when we stop observing, the true meaning of Memorial Day will only exist in a web search.”

Later in the day, Memorial Day observances will continue with an 8 p.m. candlelight service at the Bartow County Memorial Monument and Walk of Honor — on the grounds of the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave.

Conducted by the Vietnam Veterans of Bartow County, the program will feature Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini as the guest speaker.

“I am honored to be asked by the Vietnam Veterans of Bartow County to speak at their candlelight service on Memorial Day,” Santini said. “I didn’t serve in the military, but I do have a deep respect and admiration for the sacrifice and commitment by those who served. My grandfather served in [the] Navy during World War II, and I will share some stories about him and the little he shared about his time of service. I have a few other stories and thoughts on those who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War.

“My hope is that my stories will entertain those who attend while giving them an opportunity to remember friends and family who served and are no longer with us.”

While attending the candlelight ceremony, people will be able to view the veterans’ Walk of Honor. Coordinated by the Vietnam Veterans of Bartow County, the brick offering runs parallel to the government building’s sidewalk and highlights all veterans, not limited to Bartow County residents. 
“Everyone knows someone who served and is no longer with us,” Santini said. “Looking back and honoring their memory and service to our [country] reminds us freedom is precious and sometimes has to be fought for and earned. This event will bring people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences together to share a common theme of remembrance.”

Further details about the candlelight service can be obtained by calling Sonny Earwood at 770-547-8311. For more information about the Legion’s program or to add a name to its list of veterans who have passed away in the last year, visit the Post’s Facebook page.