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Memorial Day ceremony in Cumming recalls sacrifice
memorial
Family members look on as Dorthy Burkhead, escorted by Forsyth County Fire Department Capt. Rick Hamilton, unties a flag being placed in memory of her husband, Robert Burkhead, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, on Friday during the Memorial Day ceremony in Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean

CUMMING — The keynote speaker at Cumming’s annual Memorial Day observance reminded the gathering Friday that the holiday is a celebration of those “true heroes who answered the call when their country needed them.”

“They answered a call that has spanned decades and conflicts,” said Lt. Col Theodore R. Scott, deputy commander of the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard. “Whether it was World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, they heeded a call that could be only answered by a very special few.

“These special few answered a call to arms to fight an enemy whose intent was no less than the total destruction of our whole way of life.”

For the 20th year, Cumming recognized local veterans with dedications by their family members to the Avenue of Flags, which runs along both sides of the Veterans War Memorial.

“As we honor these men and women who gave their lives while defending our country,” said Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, “the city of Cumming also recognizes the men and women who served and returned home, as well as those who have served during times of peace.”

According to Gravitt, 221 flags have been dedicated over the years to 261 veterans — some honor more than one person — from every American conflict since the Civil War.

“The Avenue of Flags was created in 1995, to honor all deceased veterans whether they were lost during wartime or came home to many more days, years, decades, with their family, friends and community,” he said.

Among the 14 veterans honored Friday was Marine Robert J. Burkhead, who passed away in 2013. He was remembered by family members, including his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I just think it’s a very important part of life … It’s very impressive,” said son-in-law and fellow veteran Roy Borucki. “Unless you are attached to a family in the military, sometimes I get the impression that people just blow on past them.”

The event also featured several tributes to veterans, including a rifle salute, the release of a dozen doves and songs from the North Georgia Barbershop Singers.

The master of ceremonies for the event was John Arant of Cumming Post 307 of the American Legion.

While Scott, the keynote speaker, encouraged residents to enjoy the holiday, he said they should also remember the reason for it.

“Memorial Day is a day of celebration,” he said. “It is a time to hold picnics, to hold sporting events and family picnics, to enjoy the freedoms that are inherent in being born an American, the same freedoms that compelled our fallen heroes to answer the call and pay the ultimate price to protect us all.”