PTC ceremonies replete with patriotism for Memorial Day memories

Members of Boy Scout Troop 75 salute the flag during Memorial Day 2010 ceremonies in Peachtree City. Photo.Ben Nelms.

The grounds of Peachtree City Hall were overflowing Monday morning for the 12th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony. Emotion born in patriotism and the love of country unmistakably filled the air.

Master of ceremonies for the observance was pastor and Marine Corps veteran David Epps, who reminded the hundreds in attendance that freedom is never free and the price of freedom is vigilance.

“On Memorial Day, we don’t judge the politics of war, we don’t argue about the reasons that war are fought. We are simply here to remember, because sacrifices can be forgotten without remembrance,” Epps said.

The featured speaker for the occasion was Atlanta’s National Museum of Patriotism executive director Pat Stansbury.

Stansbury recalled the homecoming of her brother, a disabled veteran, from Vietnam when she was a young girl. She was on the sidewalk when the taxi pulled up to their home. The taxi driver would accept no money for the fare, and drove off calling her brother a “baby killer.” Stansbury said that image is still with her today.

“Today I stand before you with a son in harm’s way. My son has never tired of carrying a 60-pound sack in 120-degree heat,” Stansbury said, almost choking with emotion. “We stand here today with America in crisis. One of the biggest challenges facing us is the possible loss of true American values.”

Stansbury in her brief remarks noted the importance and the imperative that every citizen vote in every election. And she remembered the words of Ronald Reagan, who believed in, “A fate that will follow us if we do nothing.”

The ceremony began with Mayor Don Haddix welcoming those in attendance and was followed by the invocation by Peachtree City VFW Chaplain Ben Gross. Color guards in attendance were members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion and the Falcon Field Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 116.

Songs before, during and after the ceremony were by Music Alive, whose members span many area counties across south Metro Atlanta and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Boy Scout Troop 75. Local singer and songwriter Lindee Link sang the National Anthem.

Traditional with the Memorial Day ceremony, a wreath was placed at the memorial, in the shadow of the American flag, by a joint team that included VFW, American Legion and Marine Corps League members.

The placement was followed immediately by taps and a musket volley from the Marquis de LaFayette Chapter of the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Smoke billowed from the muskets as the group fired in unison, splitting the air with a sound first heard on this continent more than two centuries ago when the idea of forming the United States was for many just a dream.

Near the end of the ceremony Stansbury, along with Epps, made presentations to the families of Army 1st Sgt. Shawn McCloskey, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sept. 16, 2009, and Lt. Dan Berschinski, who was seriously injured while on patrol in Afghanistan in August 2009. The McCloskey family also received a VFW Memorial Commendation.

The ceremony drew to a close with the presentation of the Eagle Scout of the Year award to Alex Vissosky and the recognition of Booth Middle School sixth-grader Jacob Rideout who won the local VFW Patriots Pen essay contest.

Epps in his final remarks recognized Peachtree City Leisure Services Director and Marine Corps veteran Randy Gaddo who he said has worked behind the scenes for a dozen years to bring the Memorial Day ceremony to fruition.

Also attending the meeting with an interpreter were members of the Japanese Wheelchair Basketball Team. The group had been practicing in Peachtree City in preparation for the 2010 Joseph F. Lyttle World Basketball Challenge being held this week in Warm Springs.