ROSWELL, Ga. — Each year, the City of Roswell in conjunction with the Roswell Rotary Club host what is widely known as the largest Memorial Day ceremony in the state. The ceremony regularly attracts 6,000-7,000 people.
On May 23, the Roswell Rotary Club held a preview of this year’s Roswell Remembers Memorial Day Ceremony program at Roswell Area Park.
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.
The Roswell 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.
Young said most Memorial Day ceremonies tend to focus on WWII veterans, but Vietnam Veterans should not be forgotten.
He added that the numbers and names on the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C. are harrowing.
The largest age group represented on the wall is 18-year-olds, Young said. The names also include three father and son pairs as well as eight women, he added.
“The most casualties in a single day was on Jan. 31, 1968 — 245 deaths,” Young said. “The most casualties deaths for a single month was May 1968 — 2,418 casualties. For most Americans who read this, they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see those faces, and we feel the pain those numbers created.
“They were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. And it points to the fact that there are no noble wars, just noble warriors.”
For information about the Roswell Remembers Memorial Day Ceremony and next year’s event, visit roswellmemorialday.com.