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Memorial Day Observance held at Emma Kelly Theater

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Posted: May 26, 2008 9:01 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Memorial Day Observance held at Emma Kelly Theater

Nick Flott, far left, sings the national anthem during Monday's Memorial Day Community Observance at the Emma Kelly Theater.


    The Hon. William Josiah Neville reminded people Monday to remember not just the fallen soldiers from past and current wars, but to remember the "walking, living dead" who suffer mental illness related to war experiences.
    Neville, a superior court judge, spoke during the fourth annual Memorial Day Observance held at the Emma Kelly Theater in the Averitt Center for the Arts Monday.
    He spoke about how Memorial Day began - long ago, when several Southern ladies in Mississippi were cleaning and maintaining the grave sites of fallen loved ones and noticed the forgotten, unkempt graves of some Union solders. They took care of those as well, and the practice,  known as "Decoration Day," evolved into Memorial Day, he said.
    In 1968 Memorial Day was set to be May 30 each year, but "in 1971 Congress changed it to the last Monday in May" in order to have another three-day weekend holiday, he said.
    Neville spoke of a movement by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to change the observance back to May 30, and said a bill has been introduced to do so, because some feel the three-day weekend "distracts from the observance that might be made."
    United States veterans go back to the Revolutionary war, he said. They all deserve remembrance, but those who survived, wounded or mentally and emotionally scarred, deserve recognition, too.
    "The wounded have a special place, the disabled, and some who just plain lost it," he said. "War is like that. People who gave what they gave often gave more than they had, and are among the walking, living dead ... and need our sympathy and support."
    He recalled the words of someone talking about a war, whose brother said "Yeah, but the war is over now."
    "His war was not over," Neville said about the man who lives with his memories of the war day by day.
    Thinking of the veterans of wars, Neville told the crowd listening that "We are all really four people; who we are, who we think we are, who we seem to be to other people, and what we might have been."
    Veterans of the foreign wars deserve recognition and respect, he said. "They helped us become what we are, and we have them to thank.
    "What is our role? What do we do? Who are we? We are the voices of those who can no longer speak. How long will we be their voices? ... We are  the keepers of  the faith for these people and for their people ... they left behind the legacy of a great nation.. intangible, but real."
    Neville's speech was preceded by a program that began at 10:30 with patriotic music by Russ Lanier.
    American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 Sr. Vice Commander Dan Foglio served as program coordinator, and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Post 90 Chaplain Charlie Williams led the opening prayer, and center director Tim Chapman welcomed everyone to the Averitt Center for the Arts.
    Janie Staggs intoned the names for World War I veterans from Bulloch County during the memorial roll call. Burton Higgins intoned the names of Bulloch County citizens fallen during World War II - European and Pacific Theater.  Clifford Holt intoned names of Bulloch County residents who lost lives during the Korean War, and Joe Bill Brannon intoned the names of Bulloch County veterans who lost lives during the Vietnam War.
    He also called the name of a Bulloch County veteran who lost his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom: Thomas Lee Moore IV.
    As he opened the ceremony, Foglio honored those who lost lives to fight for the country.
    "All gave some; some gave all," he said. "We remember them today and we remember Kemp Mabry."
    The late Dr. Kemp Mabry was a noted Bulloch County historian who helped organize the local Memorial Day observance.
     
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