Memorial Day not dampened by rain

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Monday’s weather did not prevent the nearly 300 people gathered at Memorial Stadium from paying tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers.

“We’re just honoring those who were lost and expressing our feelings of freedom,” said Rayburn Hill, Post Commander for the Selma VFW. “We’re just fortunate that we are the ones who do it. I’m proud to be here.”

Held on the last Monday in May, this year’s celebration fell on the date that Memorial Day was traditionally observed – May 30.

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“I’m here every time they have a memorial,” said Judge Johnny Jones, who was the guest speaker for the event. “If we miss opportunities to share and remember the sacrifices made for us to have our freedom, then something is wrong.”

Jones, who served three years of active duty in the Air Force and 21 years in the National Guard said that it is vitally important for generation after generation to keep this remembrance. He urged the audience to honor and remember those killed in combat – not only today, but the other 364 days of the year.

As members of the Selma VFW, Emblem Club, Exchange Club and American Legion gently placed floral tributes in front of the speaker’s podium, a silent salute was given and Taps was played. The short, yet moving ceremony officially ended.

“This is my 30th trip out here in a row,” said Aubrey Guinn, with a smile. “I haven’t missed a time.”

Originally called Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day observance occurred on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. It was not officially recognized in the South until after World War I.

After the war, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War, to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Memorial Day is now celebrated in almost every state.