By Jason A. Smith
Memorial Day will be marked with a time of reflection, as local residents gather to honor the men and women of the U.S. military.
The Henry County Parks & Recreation Department will host a service Monday, at 10 a.m., at the Veterans Wall of Honor at Heritage Park in McDonough.
Tim Coley, director of Parks & Recreation, said the holiday ceremony will include a "short dignified service," which will focus on the sacrifices of fallen military personnel.
"We will place a wreath at the Memorial Wall, in remembrance of veterans who have passed in the line of service," said Coley. "We're honored to be a part of this service, and we hope a lot of people will come out and pay their respects."
The keynote address for the service will be given by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis M. Carey, of the U.S. Army Forces Command. Students from the ROTC at Luella High School will present the colors at the event.
One of the day's scheduled speakers is Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis. She said she is "honored" to be given a chance to share her thoughts with those in attendance.
According to Mathis, the importance of Memorial Day is sometimes not given the level of attention it deserves.
"A lot of our activities on Memorial Day tend to gravitate toward cookouts and boating excursions," she said. "But it's important to remember why we're able to do all those things. I don't think we recognize enough, the sacrifices that have been made by those men and women who gave their lives to keep our country free. The magnitude of that sacrifice is evident when you look at the Memorial Wall, and see the numbers of people who [died] in each conflict we've been involved in."
Monday's event will mark the first Memorial Day celebration, since the Veterans Wall was unveiled. Henry County Spokesperson Julie Hoover-Ernst said the wall is an ideal location for such an occasion.
"This is exactly the kind of thing we envisioned when we brought the wall to Henry County," she said. "It's an opportunity to showcase that site, and to educate citizens about the sacrifices that were made for the freedoms we enjoy today. It visually reminds us why we celebrate Memorial Day, and I think it will be a powerful backdrop for that service."
Heritage Park is located at 101 Lake Dow Road, McDonough. For more information about the Memorial Day service, call the Parks & Recreation Department, at (770) 288-7300.