ROSWELL, Ga. — Each year, the City of Roswell in conjunction with the Roswell Rotary Club takes time to remember the fallen in what is widely known as the largest Memorial Day ceremony in the state. The ceremony regularly attracts 6,000-7,000 people, and this year was no different.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the annual ceremony, which featured its second ever female guest speaker — retired Air Force Col. Patricia Blassie — on May 27 at Roswell City Hall.
Blassie served a 40-year career in the Air Force and currently works as the deputy director, directorate of manpower, personnel and services at the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command located in Robins Air Force Base. She’s best known helping identify her brother, 1st Lt. Michael Blassie, as one of the service members from the Vietnam War buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns, said David Young, co-chair of the Roswell Remembers Memorial Day Ceremony.
Following the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a picnic on the grounds with live music by the Chuck Nation Band.
The Roswell Remembers ceremony began in 1998 after the Faces of War memorial was installed at City Hall and was inspired by past Roswell Rotary Club President Tom Price.
This year’s sponsors included Carl Black GMC Roswell, Synovus, Bob Hagan Family Foundation, WellStar North Fulton Hospital and TechniPower.
Meanwhile in Alpharetta, sacrifice and freedom were the topics of the day at the 5th Annual Memorial Day Tribute held at Brooke Street Park behind City Hall. A record crowd of more than 1,000 turned out for the event, greeted by patriotic music from the Alpharetta City Band under the direction of Dr. Nicole Fallin.
The program included a cross-section of Alpharetta including the Rev. Dr. Ollie Wagner, senior pastor from Alpharetta Presbyterian Church delivering the invocation, the Alpharetta Public Safety Department Honor Guard posting the colors, Eagle Scout Sawyer Jones from Troop 69 leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Alpharetta High School senior Johnny Serafino singing the National Anthem, Marty Farrell from American Legion Post 201 reading the poem “In Flanders Fields,” and Alpharetta High School graduate Nick Amundsen playing taps at the conclusion of the ceremony.
The emcee for the ceremony was event chairman and City Councilman John Hipes who introduced the program by asking that we honor our military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice by cherishing the freedom they died to preserve. Mayor Jim Gilvin welcomed the crowd and drove home the meaning of Memorial Day by giving personal accounts of two soldiers who lost their lives serving our country.
Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Blackstock, Jr. emphasized the significance of sacrifice and the importance of Memorial Day and how it differs from all other holidays.
The Alpharetta Memorial Day Tribute is presented by the City of Alpharetta and the Rotary Club of Alpharetta.