Cumming Honors Veterans During Annual Memorial Day Ceremonies

Despite overcast conditions, about 300 people turned out for the City of Cumming’s annual Memorial Day Ceremonies on Friday, May 27.

Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt, and retired U.S. Army Chaplain Rev. Charles S. Weaver, kicked off the event with a welcome message and invocation at 11 a.m.

Master of Ceremonies Kevin Smith, of the 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army and American Legion Post 307, then introduced the Forsyth County Fire Department Honor Guard, which presented the Colors as a member of Georgia Safety Pipe and Drums provided a bagpipe tribute to recognize fallen veterans.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, the North Georgia Barbershop Singers led the National Anthem and then sang “Proud to be an American.”

Lt. Colonel Reed L. Berry, Commander, 3rd Battalion, 121st Infantry, and 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Georgia Army National Guard, provided the keynote address. He reminded the audience of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families in order to preserve the freedom that Americans enjoy every day.

A highlight of the Memorial Day event every year is the dedication of new flags to the City’s Avenue of Flags display. This year, six new flags were added, representing a total of 13 deceased veterans. The Avenue of Flags began with just a few flags in 1995 and has grown every year. With the 2016dedications, the Avenue now includes a total of 227 American flags, representing 273 deceased veterans, all of whom earned the honor of a military funeral at their passing.

Forsyth County Fire Department Honor Guard members served as escorts for the families of the new Avenue of Flags’ veterans. Those veterans were:

  • Henry L. Evans – U.S. Army; June 28, 1925-Nov. 4, 2015
  • John Massey Hagood, Jr. – U.S. Air Force; Nov. 17, 1934-May 21, 2013
  • Lawrence F. Hodgson – U.S. Navy; Feb. 25, 1909-Oct. 6, 1986
  • Alice M. Prince-Pais – U.S. Women’s Army Corps; Nov. 6, 1921-Oct. 29, 2006
  • George Pais – U.S. Army; Nov. 25, 1919-Jan. 11, 1990
  • Roland Wesley Housner – U.S. Marines; Aug. 21, 1925-May 17, 1971
  • Robert R. Housner – U.S. Marines; July 27, 1927-May 6, 2000
  • Gerald L. Housner – U.S. Army; June 5, 1929-July 8, 1993
  • Russell M. Housner – U.S. Army; May 16, 1922-May 22, 1998
  • John David Housner – U.S. Army; Born Nov. 21, 1923
  • George L. Housner – U.S. Army; Dec. 2, 1930-Feb. 22, 2014
  • William Jackson Orr – U.S. Army; Feb. 24, 1896-Jan. 16, 1959
  • James R. Patterson – U.S. Marines; Feb. 16, 1941-April 16, 2015

Before concluding the ceremony, members of the Forsyth County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department presented a rifle salute and the Forsyth Fire Department Honor Guard presented Taps.  The rifle party consisted of seven, who fired a three-volley salute. The three-volley salute is a ceremonial act performed at military and police funerals in the United States as part of the drill and ceremony of the Honor Guard.

The ceremony was concluded with the release of 21 doves by Nancy Kay Duncan of Georgia Doves. The dove release honors all veterans. A peace dove was released at the conclusion to join the other 21, symbolically bearing on her wings all prayers for lasting peace throughout the world.

The doves together circled the Cumming Veterans War Memorial, which pays homage to the sons and daughters of Cumming and Forsyth County who served their country on both foreign and American soil. Engraved into the granite pillars, representing each American conflict since the Civil War, are the names of the local soldiers who sacrificed their lives during each respective war.

[All photos by Peggy Cozart]