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Crowd turns out for Memorial Day

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Celebration expected to become an annual event

By Pat Faherty

Celebrating Memorial Day on the Gadsden County Courthouse Square is expected to become an annual event.

On Monday, for first time in recent memory, the holiday was observed there as hundreds gathered to remember and honor those who died serving their country.

Gadsden County Commissioner Sherrie Taylor who acknowledged it came together in pretty short order spearheaded the event.

The resulting program included the East Gadsden High School Color Guard, the James A. Shanks Middle School Band, the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 12054, a variety of speakers, the Missing Man Table of Honor Ceremony, plenty of flags and lunch.

“This is our first annual Memorial Day celebration,” said Gadsden County’s Veterans Services Officer and retired Army veteran Jerome Jordan. He introduced Maj. Willie A. Jackson as host and moderator, predicting he would be the next superintendent of school when Reginald James retires in 10 year of so,

Jackson in turn introduced Tomiko Jordan, who sang the Lord’s Prayer.

Then Jackson gave the history of Memorial Day, which was first observed in 1868. It was traditionally a local celebration known as Decoration Day. But he pointed out “the observances have diminished over the years and many had not held a parade in decades. – “You’re of one of them Quincy, he said. “Let’s commit to an annual observance of this important day.”

Vietnam veteran Angus Hinson spoke next and referenced Romans 31-32 and 35-39.

He was followed by Korean Way veteran Walter Great, who presented a “Soldier’s Story” and recalled joining the Army at age 15 for three meals a day. “I love the U.S. Army,” he said.

Retired Marine Lt. Col.Steve Holmes spoke about the troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jackson explained the Missing Man Ceremony. The flag was lowered to half-mast and there was a fully set dinner table with an empty place representing for a member of each branch of the service and civilians -- those missing in action -- symbolizing that they were there in spirit. “It’s why we are here,’ he said.

Color Guard members saluted each of the missing and later the crowd toasted them.

Other speakers included Rev. Freddie Tellis of Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church of Havana, Superintendent James and Commissioner Taylor.

Taylor recalled how the event came together through the efforts of the City of Quincy, the school board, the sheriff department and veterans’ services. She thanked the other supporters including Judge Kathy Garner, Rev. Clarence Jackson, Griffin Furniture and First Presbyterian Church.

 She acknowledged others including Piggly Wiggly, New Bethel A.M.E. Church. 1st Elizabeth, Roger Lewis and Family and the Vista volunteers.

“This is going to be an annual event,” she said. “We’re going to be out here every year from now on celebrating . . . it won’t stop.”

Throughout the program the cooks had been busy frying, grilling and preparing fish, chicken, iced tea and trimmings – more than enough to feed the hungry crowd,