SYLVANIA - "The best way too preserve Memorial Day is to preserve memories," said Sen. Jesse Stone at the Sylvania Memorial Day observance last week.
Sylvania's observance was held a week early, a tradition in recent years, at First Baptist Church.
One of his most rewarding experiences, Stone said, is sitting with veterans in his hometown of Waynesboro and hearing their stories.
Nearly 100 oral histories of World War II and Korean veterans have been recorded in Swainsboro, where Stone first became involved in the project.
Waynesboro has since also begun recording the oral histories of veterans, and Stone challenged Monday's Sylvania audience to do the same.
Dr. A.L. Freeland's middle school students led in a time of remembrance during the service as they participated in the reading of each local veteran who sacrificed their lives for our country.
Veterans who were present in the service were also recognized for their service to our country.
"It is fitting that the day chosen to celebrate Memorial Day is a day that gives birth to a season of life," said special guest speaker Earl W. Rilington, Jr., LTC, USA.
Wreaths were placed in honor and remembrance by representatives from the City of Sylvania, Screven County Commission, Daughters of the American Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and U.S. Military Retirees of Screven County.
Moving musical performances by Jason Long and Major Ray Jackson, USAF (ret.) gave onlookers time to ponder Rilington's resounding message that "freedom isn't free."
"We know our job is not done," he said.
"Terror will not rest, evil will not sleep," said Rilington, "but justice will triumph and freedom will reign."
The service was sponsored by the U.S. Military Retirees Association of Sylvania and the Screven County Chamber of Commerce.