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Sacrifices of veterans praised
City's Memorial Day ceremony draws crowd
Twenty-five white doves were released as part of Cumming's Memorial Day observance Friday morning. - photo by Jim Dean

At a glance
Veterans honored during this year’s Avenue of Flags dedication included:

Air Force
* Harold T. Cape

* Clarence Byron Anderson
* Dennis Charles Barnett
* Perry E. Cooper
* Edward Lewis Croy
* Bobby W. Jones
* Buck Jones
* M.C. Kirby
* Daniel Major Pendley
* H.V. Satterfield
* Hubert Satterfield
* Robert Broughton Sewell
* Waymon Benson Tate

* George Truman Benson
* James Harold Pendley

Source: City of Cumming

Joan Kirby said she is always appreciative of Cumming's annual Memorial Day observance.

Held Friday at the Veterans War Memorial, this year’s event took on additional meaning.

Kirby, the widow of M.C. Kirby, a Vietnam War veteran, was a member of 12 families who dedicated American flags to their loved ones during the Avenue of Flags ceremony.

In total, more than 180 flags, each representing at least one deceased veteran, are placed at the memorial during the ceremony. New flags are added each year.

M.C. Kirby, who served in the U.S. Army, was honored on a flag along with Joan Kirby’s father, H.V. Satterfield, and uncle, Hubert Satterfield.

“They all went to war and served their country well,” said Joan Kirby, adding that her father served in World War II and her uncle in the Korea War.

The Avenue of Flags dedication has been a part of the Memorial Day ceremony since 1995.

“It’s a final and lasting tribute to those who have served their country,” said Martin Ferrell, the event’s master of ceremonies and a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1030.

In total, 15 veterans were recognized during the flag dedication Friday.

The ceremony also included the presentation of colors by the Forsyth County Fire Department Honor Guard and Forsyth Pipe and Drum. The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office conducted a rifle salute.

An invocation was given by Shad Faulkner, while Macy Swanson, a rising sophomore at North Forsyth High School, sang the national anthem.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt welcomed the crowd of several hundred to the event.

“It is indeed a pleasure to thank all you veterans and your family members for all the sacrifices that have been made so we can live in the greatest country in the world,” Gravitt said.

Ferrell stressed the importance of remembering the occasion's true definition.

“Let us never lose focus of what Memorial Day really means,” he said. “It’s not about the beaches, picnics or auto races. It’s about our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Ferrell also encouraged the audience to support veterans’ organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and VVA.

“I think any solider would say the greatest way to honor their memory is to take care of their families,” Ferrell said. “So I encourage you to support the fundraising efforts of the various veterans groups who support veterans, the families of the wounded and of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Another highlight of the ceremony was the release of 25 white doves.

Released first were three doves, representing all current service men and women. They were followed by another 21 in honor of all fallen veterans.

Finally, a single white dove took flight as a symbol of future, lasting peace.

Ralph Allen, a World War II veteran who attended the event for the first time Friday, said he got “choked up” during the ceremony.

“It means a lot to someone who served during World War II as a very young person,” he said. “It was a beautiful service.”

Joan Kirby echoed those sentiments.

“Coming from a veteran’s wife, there couldn’t be anything any better than today,” she said. “I’m just so grateful for this day.”