Memorial Day service attendees

Franklin County’s annual Memorial Day service looked different this year with the event focusing on safety from the coronavirus, featuring protective masks and social distancing. 

The annual Memorial Day service at Franklin Memorial Gardens & Mausoleum went on pretty much as normal Monday with an exception — protective masks and social distancing adorned the setting.

With the state opening up more to allow events as coronavirus cases have stabilized, a decision was made to have the Memorial Day event to pay tribute to veterans from Franklin County who had died in service as well as those who are still living who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect their nation.

About 100 attended the ceremony, sponsored by Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 71; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1893; and the Franklin County American Legion, Post 44.

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Larry E. Williams, who is the Disabled American Veterans adjutant and treasurer, took his protective mask off only to address the audience from a safe distance.

He said World War II veterans especially need to be honored because there’s very few of them who are still living.

Williams said honor was so important, and World War II’s “Greatest Generation” put it above all else.

He said the picture has changed in modern times, evident by watching the “Judge Judy” reality TV court show where offspring are often shown suing their parents over differences the Greatest Generation would have never thought about.

However, Williams addressed an aspect of modern military involvement where service personnel can proudly wear their uniforms in public and be openly thanked for their commitment without fear of being ostracized.

He explained the scenario was different for Vietnam veterans, who served their country in an unpopular war.

“I’m happy to see this more, and people can shake their hands for their service to their country,” Williams said, referring to how the situation has changed. “It’s as good as it is, but it could always be better.”

Retired Army Col. Dr. Alan Clark was the second guest speaker.

He explained how the former Decoration Day became a federal holiday in 1971.

Clark said that in the years following the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers developed the tradition which survives today.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War.

However, during World War I, the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

Clark said he thanks God that those who have lived and are living can say thanks to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The Memorial Day service’s lineup included Master of Ceremonies Mike Foster, a lifetime DAV and VFW member, welcoming the audience; a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance by Vietnam Army veteran Ray Cutrell; Army Vietnam veteran Capt. Charley Watkins leading the invocation and ending the event with the benediction; and Dr. Jerry Anderson leading “The Star-Spangled Banner” and singing “God Bless the USA.”

Vietnam veteran Don Shannonhouse also read the poem “Reflection on the Vietnam War Memorial” as a tribute to fellow military personnel who served in the Vietnam War.

The event also featured a tribute to veterans from Franklin County who gave their lives in service to the nation. Each name was read aloud by Foster.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in World War I include:

Robert Ashley, Albert Banholzer, William J. Blansett, Harry Raymond Bohanan, Paul A. Bunn, Ernest J, Campbell, Henry C. Cates, William Oscar Clark, George W. Decker, Frank Epperson, Lester Evans, Enoch S. Foster, Thomas Gossage, Aubrey Grant, Robert Lee Hockersmith, William B. Hughes, Warnie Isbell, James L. Jones, Sam B. Kennerly, William M. Ledford, Arthur Marks, John T. Omohundro, Jeff D. Pack, Louis E. Pickney, Charles L. Russell, George D. Sheridan, Zeb Snelson, Benjamin G. St. John, Barney G. Taylor, Edward C. Tucker, Ike Turner, Peter J. Turney III, Thomas R. Wilhoit, David L. Wilson and Miles Woods.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in World War II include:

John Carwell Anderton, Murrell W. Anderton Jr., James Thomas Arnold, Patrick Ashburn, James Lenard Ashley, Palmer Sanford Awtrey, Ralph Thomas Barnes, Earl S. Bearden, Wilburn Lee Bradford, Robert Leon Brinlley, Charles Buchanan, Francis Addelbert Caldwell, Frank Castell, Charlie K. Castleberry, Johnnie C. Certain, Beverly I. Chadwell, Willi Childress, Thomas Hershel Clark, Felix Warren Coker, John Meigs Commers, Roy Metcalf Copeland Jr., John Davis Couch, Paul B. Crabtree, Don Aaron Daniel, James Audrey Davis, Melton Dickerson, John Frank Dotson, Ralph Edgar Dotson, George Lensey Epperson, James F. Eslick, Claude Ellis Evans, Thomas William Farris, Edward Erskin Foster, Edward Franz, Sammie Mack Garner, William L. Garner, Davis Robert Grant, James E. Hamilton, George David Hendley, Andrew J. Hendon Sr., James Hill, William Gordon Hill, James Clifton Holt, William Hornbuckle, Robert Luther Hughes;

Raymond Floyd Hulvey, Herman William Hunt, Charles William Hunter, James Corry Jackson, Marion Francis Jackson Jr., James R. Janey, Charles N. Jernigan, Paul R. Johnson, Charles James Juhan, Richard Allen Knott, David Lafayette Lynch Jr., Allen Lawrence, McBee, Troy E. Mitchell, Charles Richard Money, Jessie Ray Moore, Thomas E. Murrell, George Clifton Myers, Leaburn D. Myers, Dwight Everette Nash, Walter Osborne, Fred Herbert Pack, James Clint Partin, John Leo Pickney, Ollie Ross Poe, Jack A. Past, H.B. Prince, Clyde Vance Proby, Herman Cornelius Reid, Haskell Dubose Rose, Jesse Berch Ross, Alton A. Shasteen, Louis Edward Simmons, Floyd Sims, James B. Skidmore, Claude J. Spencer, Ollie Steele, Osborne Stewart, John Arthur Taylor, George Wilson Temples Sr., William Aaron Vann, Joe D. Walker, James Howard Warren, James Gordon Weddington, Ernest Alex White, Willis L. Williams, Walter C. Willis, Billie B. Wiseman, Arnold Worthington and William Herman Yates.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in the Korean War include:

Howard G. Foster, Basil M. Grizzell Jr., Forrest M. Marshall, Willi Modena, Carl W. Payne Jr., James Rutledge, J.D. Sanders, Stanford G. Shahan, Franklin Shetters and Thomas W. Williams.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in the Vietnam War include:

Jackson Dillion Barnes, Jimmy Ray Clark, Charles Larry Housley, Joe L. Lujan Jr., Ronald Virgil Putnam, James Edward Robinson, George Rutledge Jr., Kenneth Parker Shasteen, John Henry Shetters, Gary D. Templeton and Randy Ward.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom include:

Nathan B. Clemons.

Veterans from Franklin County who died in Afghanistan include:

Gregory A. Posey and David A. Stephens.