By Jason A. Smith
Henry County's two largest cities will honor fallen military veterans for making the ultimate sacrifice.
An Inaugural Memorial March is scheduled for Monday, at 8 a.m. The one-mile walk will begin at the Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge, said Miranda Roberts, director of events for the center.
"The walk ... will go to Memorial Park, and then participants will return back to Merle Manders Conference Center for a breakfast provided by Chick-fil-A," Roberts said. "The event will begin at 8 a.m., with the walk starting at 9 a.m."
She added that participants will include local residents, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Units, NAACP representatives and members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Also on Monday, a Memorial Day service will be held at 10 a.m., at the Veterans Wall of Honor in McDonough. The wall is located at 101 Lake Dow Road.
Henry Commission Chairman, Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, said the event at the Wall will serve several purposes, with the goal of honoring the U.S. Armed Services.
"The Wall of Honor provides us with opportunity to pay tribute to the Heroes of this nation who have given their lives in the preservation of freedom," Mathis said. "The service allows us to gather as a community to reflect upon the true cost of our freedom, to pray for the families who have lost loved ones in military conflict or in war. It is also a solemn reminder of our duty to pray for our troops and their safety."
The service will include appearances by several individuals who have made their living by serving in the military, according to Henry County spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst. One of those individuals is retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Dale R. Nelson, who will give a memorial address during the occasion.
Nelson is a 31-year veteran who retired in 1999 as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (Maneuver), for the United States Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Hoover-Ernst said.
"During his accomplished career, Gen. Nelson served in a variety of command and staff positions both in [the continental United States] and overseas, including two tours in combat as a platoon leader with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and Brigade Staff Advisor, Airborne Division Assistance Team, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam," the spokesperson said. "His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier's Medal, Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart, among others."
The program will also include a presentation of the colors by the Henry County Police Honor Guard. Jerry Messenger, Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 11576, will provide the welcome. Commanders for VFW Posts 11576 and 6330 will join Crystal Beale, wife of fallen Army soldier, Sgt. First Class John C. Beale, in presenting a wreath during the event. Sgt. Beale was killed in the line of duty, in Afghanistan, in 2009.
John Pierson, Commander of the 4th District American Legion, will share a remembrance and history of the occasion, while Helen Denton with VFW Post 11576 and Col. Phil Tuller will provide memorial readings," Hoover-Ernst said. "The National Anthem and God Bless America will be sung by Charles C.V. Wilson with VFW Post 11576. Randy Rollins with Bugles Across America will play TAPS."
For more information, visit www.veteranswallofhonor.org.