Memorial Day service pays tribute to the fallen
For Harold G. Herring, Monday was far from being just another day.
As he strolled along the walkway at the Veteran’s Park at the Franklin County Archives and Research Center gazing at the names listed on the bricks below, he couldn’t help but think what about the real meaning behind that park.
“This is a special day,” said Herring, a Russellville resident who served in the Korean War.
“I like to see our soldiers honored. This place should be full of people doing the same thing.”
During a special service Monday, the Greater Shoals Area chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart unveiled a memorial monument dedicated in honor of those who were wounded or lost their lives in service, which is a qualification for being awarded the Purple Heart.
“There are lots of monuments and memorials that recognize our local service members, but this is a special memorial to honor our fellow Purple Heart recipients – those wounded or killed in combat,” Col. Shalon Sledge said.
Lt. Col. Grant Atkins, who retired with 30 years of service in the military and now serves as the commander of American Legion Post 64, said the ceremony was special because it honored those who gave everything.
“Memorial Day is a day we set aside to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – the soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives for freedom,” Atkins said.
The Purple Heart Memorial is the latest monument to be placed in Veteran’s Park, which includes memorials for conflicts fought from the Civil War to the ongoing War on Terror.
Sledge said the Greater Shoals Area chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart placed markers in Lauderdale County and Colbert County on the past two Memorial Days and had been working to raise funds for the Franklin County memorial when he approached local residents about their support.
“I came to the Veterans Day parade in November and then went to the reception following it,” he said.
“I asked if I could speak for a few minutes about what we needed. In the middle of it, Sen. Roger Bedford stood up and said that he and Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow would take care of the balance needed to pay for the monument.”
Morrow, who spoke at Monday’s ceremony, said he was thrilled to see a monument placed for those who received the Purple Heart. He issued a challenge to area residents to take a greater interest in honoring those who have served for us.
“Why is this hill not covered up?” Morrow asked, questioning why more people hadn’t taken part in Monday’s ceremony.
“We tend to forget the farther we are removed from an event where someone has given their life for us,” he said.
“I challenge the people to look at this beautiful marker and remember the sacrifice and say thank you to all of our veterans.”