COLUMBUS, Ga. — Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus hosted a special Memorial Day service Monday. Descendants of those who fought and died for freedom since the founding of the United States gathered for the 12th Annual Memorial Day Commemoration. The Coweta Falls Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution joined with different representatives of veteran advocacy groups from across the Chattahoochee Valley.
For those remembering lost loved ones, Memorial Day gives them a chance to not only reflect on history, but also to let others understand what the holiday is all about. A visit to the cemetery on Memorial Day reminds Mervyn Willoughby of his family’s history of service and sacrifice. Willoughby’s father served in World War II.
“He incurred injuries in North Africa,” Willoughby said. “He came back with half a lung, TB, and emphysema.”
The Vietnam veteran says he can trace his lineage back to people who fought to establish the United States.
“It gives you a sense of pride knowing we made a difference over the generations from the Revolutionary War down at Kettle Creek to Northern Virginia with Robert E. Lee and the 61st Georgia regiment,” Willoughby said. “They were willing to go and answer the call of duty. Freedom is not free. Someone does pay a price for what we have today. And if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have the freedoms we enjoy in America today.”
Dan McMichael is the president of the Coweta Falls Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He and dozens of others recognized service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice since America’s inception.
“Today is a day of honoring all veterans that have lost their life or given their life for our country,” McMichael said. “We bring our history to life for the average citizen that may not realize what was given and fought for. That’s the only reason we have it today.”
Ft. Benning Chaplain Maj. Mark Winton headlined the service. He urges people to comfort families who are dealing with the loss of a service member.
“There is hope in the midst of all of this grief to press on in these realities,” Maj. Winton said. “We try and emulate that character. We live in gratitude for the gift that these men and women have given us, and ultimately we do everything that we can to come alongside their families. We love them, encourage them, and tell them of what great value their loved one was personally and to the nation.”