MILTON, Ga. – Every year, the city of Milton puts on a ceremony to honor those who have served the country on Memorial Day. And every year since the city was formed, Councilmember Bill Lusk has created the white markers that line Deerfield Parkway prior to the event.
He started the effort in 2006 and has continued it every year since then.
“I noticed other cities had done it,” Lusk said. “With our city being new, we didn’t have any traditions or ceremonies. Being a veteran myself, I thought it would be fitting to do it.”
Lusk served in Vietnam.
Every year, Lusk takes the time to assemble the cross-shaped markers in his own home, cutting and painting them, and then painting on the names of the dead.
“It goes in phases,” Lusk said. “I cut out the lumber first and then paint it. Then I stencil it. And then I put the arms on the cross.”
It takes about an hour and a half for each marker.
Lusk said the city now has 315 markers, with about 45 left for Lusk to make between now and Memorial Day.
The city does not keep records of those residents who have served in the armed forces, instead relying on submissions from the public. The only requirements to have a marker are that the service member must have died and they must have a family member who currently lives within Milton. The service member does not have to have lived in the city.
“We have a growing list of living veterans,” Lusk said. “We got a surge there in the last two weeks [for the list of living and dead veterans].”
Names on the markers may sound familiar. Many are of the local families for whom many of the streets are named – Rucker, Pendley, Mashburn, Thurman, Vaughan and Nix. The names come from just about every war in which the U.S. has fought, all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
Lusk’s father and uncles served in World War II. Elmer Lusk, who recently died, landed on Utah Beach in Normandy for D-Day. Another uncle, Irving, served in Patton’s 3rd Army in Africa and Italy.
There are a growing number of veterans from World War II represented in the markers.
Because there are so many veterans in need of markers, Lusk said the traditional site for them, Deerfield Parkway, was running out of room.
“With over 250, we’re gone as far as we can in Milton’s city limits on Deerfield Parkway,” he said.
Because not everyone in the city travels on Deerfield Parkway, Lusk has suggested putting the overflow from Deerfield in the Crabapple area for the people on the west side of the city.
Milton’s annual Memorial Day ceremony will be May 27 at 10 a.m. at Milton City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107.
For more information, visit www.cityofmiltonga.us.