ROSWELL, Ga. – Georgia’s largest Memorial Day ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, on the grounds of Roswell City Hall, 38 Hill Street in Roswell.
Begun in 1997 as a non-political, non-commercial ceremony honoring veterans and the sacrifices they made in protecting freedom, the ceremony has grown to a huge affair, regularly attracting thousands at Roswell City Hall.
“A lot of places do a parade or a service for Memorial Day,” said Mike McCray, with the Roswell Rotary Club, which organizes the event. “What we do is special. We have a 21 gun salute and an open mic. That open mic is the most moving thing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
People in the audience can take the microphone during the service and tell their own stories to the crowd.
“You don’t see a dry eye,” said Roswell Councilmember Becky Wynn. “It’s just a great event.”
Displays and exhibits show off memorabilia from throughout the nation’s wars for the public to see before and after the event.
The military ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with music by the Atlanta Wind Symphony and the Chattahoochee Celtic Pipes and Drums.
Creating the event is a year-long process by a Roswell Rotary Club committee.
Dave McCleary, who headed one of the past ceremonies, said speakers are chosen from contacts in the committee.
“A lot of people think we are a small event,” he said. “We send them the DVD [of a previous year] and then they get really excited.”
After this year’s event, there will be a bluegrass band to perform while the crowd breaks for food.
“It’s a great event for the family,” McCleary said.
The featured speaker will be Charles G. Shepherd Jr., who was a first lieutenant serving with the 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Division in the European Theater from July 16, 1944 until the end of World War II in Europe. He received dozens of awards, including two Bronze Star medals for meritorious achievement in ground combat against the armed enemy in the European African Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. He participated in five major campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. In 2002, he was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School’s Hall of Fame. He received the Silver Star for Gallantry in action on April 2, 1945 in the vicinity of Siegen, Germany.
For additional information, visit www.roswellmemorialday.com.
This article was published in the Revue & News April 23, 2013 edition