A large crowd gathered Monday in Veterans Memorial Park to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in service to the country.
The sound of bagpipes filled the air and the sun shone through clouds that seemed to part just for the Memorial Day ceremony.
“Today we honor those who are not here,” said keynote speaker Mike Berg, who served in the Army during the Vietnam era. “This is an important day to us.”
Berg recalled a close friend, Wayne Moss, with whom he played football in high school.
“Wayne and I were good friends,” said Berg, adding their bond grew deeper when their football coach made them hold hands in practice to stay in line.
“Wayne and I held hands for five years. Wayne got drafted, served and died in Vietnam.”
Berg, who chairs the county commission, praised the Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, which organized the service, for their efforts to expand the county’s veterans memorial by creating a walkway and securing a Huey UH-1 series helicopter for the site.
Several local civic and veterans groups also spent May 20 lining the streets in downtown Dawsonville with flags and crosses in honor of the servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“There are people in this country that do think about those who have fallen,” Berg said.
Wayne Watkins, state president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, served as master of ceremonies. Victor L. Wallace II, chaplain of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, led the invocation.
Wallace’s prayer called attention to the men and women who “gave their tomorrows for our todays.”
“By their sacrifices we have the freedom to gather here this Memorial Day,” he said.
An Oklahoma native and U.S. Marine who served in the Far East and Mediterranean, Wallace has a son stationed in Iraq.
The service included a somber remembrance for prisoners of war and those missing in action and concluded with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.