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Ceremony recognizes sacrifice
Avenue of Flags grows in Cumming
Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt talks about the history of the Veterans Memorial near downtown during a ceremony Friday. - photo by Jim Dean

2012 Avenue of Flags inductees

Air Force:

William Ratio Mathis, 1925-2008

Robert Lynn Williams Jr., 1944-2009



Thad Cape, 1931-2010

Billy J. Evans, 1935-2003

Harry J. Martin, 1943-2010

John Edgar Pirkle, 1938-2011

John V. Prince, 1923-2002

Frank Smallwood, 1933-1993

James C. Orr, 1923-2007

John C. Orr, 1897-1979

Dan Orr, 1930-1997

Vernon Asbury Waters, 1930-2010



George John Roucek, 1916-1984

Hyram Ledell Wagnon (Seabees), 1921-2011


Note: There are 11 flags, but 14 veterans.
Four are on the same flag.


Source: City of Cumming

Deena Robinson could barely contain her emotion as she and her mother unfurled an American flag in honor of her late father, Harry J. Martin.

“The sacrifice that any man or woman makes for the country should always be honored and recognized,” Robinson said.

“Our father passed away two years ago and we thought this would be important for him in remembrance of him and all of the soldiers who have fought and/or died in any conflict in our history.”

Martin, a U.S. Army veteran, was one of 14 servicemen honored during the city of Cumming’s annual Memorial Day Ceremonies: A Generation of Remembrance, held Friday at the Veterans War Memorial near downtown.

During the Avenue of Flags dedication portion of the event, family members of the deceased veterans released and raised American flags.

Each year since 1995, the Avenue of Flags has added more symbols of deceased veterans who either hailed from Forsyth County or whose family members live here.

On Friday, 11 flags were added, bringing the total to nearly 200.

This year’s ceremony also marked the 20thanniversary of the war memorial, which was built in 1992 in response to Desert Storm.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt welcomed guests to the event and thanked members of the city council for allowing a committee to raise funds for the memorial.

“Without the committee to build this memorial in the early ’90s prior to the Gulf War, we wouldn’t have this great [monument] right here for the veterans,” Gravitt said.

“We can’t thank the veterans enough for the sacrifices they’ve made and, certainly along with their families, the sacrifice has been made.”

Master of Ceremonies Richard Knight, Veterans of Foreign Wars district commander, also thanked service members, both serving today and in previous years, for their sacrifice.

“President Kennedy said a nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers,” Knight said.

“Today, we equally honor service men and women, but the sentiment remains crystal clear. A key component of our nation’s greatness lies in our ability to honor, appreciate and cherish, through our actions and our memories, all those who died to ensure our freedom.”

The event also featured presentation of the colors and a rifle salute by the Forsyth County Fire Department Honor Guard and patriotic songs by the North Georgia Barbershop Singers.

The program concluded with a dove release by Nancy Kay Duncan, owner of Georgia Doves.

Twenty-one white doves were released in tribute to fallen veterans, three in honor of current servicemen and women, and one as a symbol of hope for peace.

Robinson said it was difficult to describe what she felt during the ceremony.

“There are no words,” she said. “I’m just a very proud daughter of a very good man.”