For the first time in 13 years, the free, public Memorial Day service hosted by American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 at the Emma Kelly Theater will go forward Monday without Dan Foglio as master of ceremonies.
That role is being filled by Bob Marsh, Post 90’s finance officer. The service will begin at 10:30 a.m. with music led by Dr. Michael Braz, followed by the ceremonial and speaking parts starting at 11 a.m. in the theater at the Averitt Center for the Arts on East Main Street. Jane Grier Durden, a retired teacher and active historical and civic organization leader from Swainsboro, will be the keynote speaker.
Foglio, who was American Legion Post 90 senior vice commander, served as organizer and emcee for both the Memorial Day ceremonies at the end of May and the Veterans Day celebrations each Nov. 11 since taking over from the late Dr. Kemp Mabry. In fact, after asking Foglio in December 2006 to plan the next ceremony, Mabry passed away in March 2007 before the Memorial Day service that May.
In early April 2019, after 20 years as residents of Bulloch County, Dan Foglio and his wife, Marti, returned to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area to live near their children, grandchildren and great-grands.
“Even though I’ll be here in Pennsylvania physically, my heart and soul will be in Statesboro at the Averitt Center on Memorial Day,” Foglio said on the phone this week. “I’ll miss everybody there.”
Having made many friends here, the Foglios have received frequent calls from Statesboro since their move.
Dan Foglio was active in other civic and community volunteerism during his two decades here, especially with the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro. For years he handled tickets and worked with security for the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
For the Memorial Day and Veterans Day events, he had learned to make arrangements well in advance and had lined up speakers as much as three years out. He asked Jane Durden to be this Memorial Day’s speaker well over a year ago, and she didn’t know he had moved away until Marsh called her to confirm for Monday.
Durden, a native of Swainsboro, attained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Georgia Southern. She taught in the Emanuel County schools for 30 years before retiring in 2003. She has pursued an interest in genealogy and historic preservation since the 1970s, spending many hours in libraries, courthouses and archives on research.
Currently regent of the Gov. David Emanuel-Adam Brinson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Durden is a member of the National Gavel Society, the Georgia Salzburger Society and Daughters of American Colonists. Active in the Kiwanis Club of Swainsboro, she previously served as its president. She has served as governor general of both the First Families of Georgia and the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims, as president general of Colonial and Antebellum Bench and Bar and as president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“Memorial Day means different things to different people, and to so many people Memorial Day is the holiday weekend – I understand that – and it’s the beginning of summer,” Durden said Wednesday. “But also, to people who love history and as patriotic Americans, I think we need to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.”
The intoning of names of Bulloch County’s military service members who died in wars is a central part of the annual ceremony. Seven veterans, including American Legion Post 90 Commander Marvin Grimm, Jimmie Alderman, Hugh Waters, Carlos Brown, George Sterling, Randy Brigman and Earl Anderson, are scheduled to recite the names from the American Civil War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I think the world of Bob Marsh to take this over because, well, it’s a bigger job than most people think it is,” Foglio said on the phone.
“I guess I am,” Marsh said when asked if he is carrying on the tradition. “Well, a bunch of us are. It’s taking, like, three of us to fill Dan’s big shoes, you know.”
“I want to thank Bob for coming in,” Foglio said. “The shoes ain’t that big, but he can make his own shoes – you know what I mean – and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job, and I’ll be thinking about him and his wife, Marie.”
She is helping, and Grimm, the post commander, is another person working hard to continue the ceremonies, but it takes many others, Marsh said.
Grimm is scheduled to give the welcome and post Chaplain J.D. Turner the prayers Monday. Others on the program are Senior Vice Commander Charles “Skip” Campbell, Junior Vice Commander Barbara Thames, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 90 President Susan Uhlendorff, Lisa Muldrew, Averitt Center Deputy Director Rahn Hutcheson, Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown and Vickie O’Brian.
Also by tradition, the audience will join in singing “God Bless America” before Kera Olsen plays Taps to conclude the service.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.