Middle Georgians honor fallen veterans at Macon Memorial Park Memorial Day service

Since 1950, Macon Memorial Park has held a Memorial Day service to honor veterans and America’s war dead.

This year, the ceremony off Mercer University Drive drew more than 100 people who came to honor their late husbands, relatives, neighbors or friends who served this nation.

“Most of us are here because a soldier died for us,” keynote speaker Bibb State Court Senior Judge J. Taylor Phillips said. “We should be grateful and never forget.”

Phillips, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, came to pay his respects to his brother Capt. Walter Phillips, who was killed at Chosin Reservoir, along with about 300 in his unit, during the Korean War.

Phillips read the crowd excerpts from a personal letter he received from Gen. Douglas MacArthur about his brother’s death and courage.

Memorial Day should be a patriotic time said Edith Brice, 81, of Macon, who came to honor of her late husband, Coleman Brice, who served during World War II and died in 2005.

“We had friends killed in World War II,” she said. “I heard sad stories that would break your heart.”

The names of nearly 500 veterans from Bibb County who served from World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom were listed in honor on this year’s program.

During the ceremony, members of the Marine Corps League, Sons of the American Revolution, Macon Police Department and Bibb County Sheriff’s Office presented colors. A wreath ceremony and Mass were also held.

“It’s important to keep history alive,” said 14-year-old Dylan Franklin, a home-schooled student from Crawford County who played taps on his bugle for the event and said it’s important for Americans to honor fallen heroes.

After placing flags on veterans’ graves at Lake Blackshear, a couple of Vietnam War veterans, Wendell Breedlove and Larry Barnes, drove from Cordele to the Monday morning service.

They lost several of their buddies in Vietnam between 1966 and 1968, they said.

For them, just like Veterans Day and POW/MIA Recognition Day, Memorial Day never goes by unnoticed.

More people though should take the time to remember, Breedlove said.

“They tend to forget the reason for it,” he said of the holiday often marked as a day off work or opportunity for recreation. “They tend to forget there are people no longer with us because of those sacrifices they made for us.”