The sun shined brightly for the attendants of Smyrna’s Memorial Day Service Monday where more than 1,000 people attended the ceremony at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial.
Highlights of the event included a presentation of the colors by the 94th Airlift Wing Honor Guard, speeches by veterans of the armed forces and a wreath ceremony honoring veterans who lost their lives in each of the United States’ combat missions.
The 116th Georgia Army Guard Band and the Tara Winds Community Band also performed.
Wade Lnenicka, Smyrna city councilman and chairman of the Memorial Day service, honored the three Cobb County servicemen killed since last Memorial Day: Ranger Sgt. Jonathan K. Peney, 22, Spec. Jacob A. Dennis, 22 and 1st Lt. Scott. J. Fleming, 24.
“There’s one question that we always try to answer at these ceremonies, and that’s ‘Why do we have a Memorial Day?’” Lnenicka said. “Many of you sitting in the hot sun, taking an hour of your day. Why should we be here?”
Lenincka’s question would be answered later in the ceremony by Col. Michael D. Steele, one of the day’s speakers.
“Today, we’re here in Smyrna, Georgia to remember and to pay tribute to the 58,267 names on the Vietnam Wall and all the other names on memorials, monuments and tombstones around the nation; every name representing a hero,” Steele said.
Steele went on to add that surviving veterans deserved thanks as well.
“I would ask in your endeavor to re-focus before you depart here today that you’ll seek out and you’ll find a veteran, that you’ll pull him aside, that you’ll look him dead in the eye and tell him that you appreciate his service, that you appreciate his sacrifice for our country,” he said. “Tell him that you’re proud of him. There’s an excellent chance that it’ll be the first time anyone has ever thanked him for his contribution."
The ceremony was well received by attendants.
Sam Culpepper served in the Army Air Corps, a precursor to the Air Force, during World War II.
“I just came to the ceremony and I honor them in my heart,” he said. “It’s just a special day to me. It is to any veteran to honor those who didn’t come back and those that served. A lot of them served very hard work, a lot of pain and inconvenience and hunger a lot of times. But nonetheless they did what they had to do.”
Linda Simpson came to the ceremony to honor all veterans, but especially her father and her father-in-law. Both are veterans of World War II.
“I just thought it was very inspiring and great that Smyrna’s doing something like that,” she said.
Simpson said the ceremony achieved its purpose of reminding her why Memorial Day is celebrated.
“Remembering is all about Memorial Day and honoring,” Simpson said. “As he said not all aspects of our country understand that, but those of us who do need to really take a firm stand on that.”
After the ceremony attendees were encouraged to view displays of military equipment including weapons and military vehicles and at noon the flag was returned to full-mast signaling an end to the day’s festivities.