Eternal Flame Re-dedicated During Memorial Day Service in Marianna

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

Some wore their military uniforms, others donned patriotic colors.

Some were old, some were young.

All of them braved the Monday morning heat to pay tribute to those who died for our nation's freedom.

"This is a day of remembrance...this is a day of honor...this is a day of thanks," says Retired LTC USAF Coennie Woods.

For some, like 71-year-old Veteran Charlie Snellgrove, Memorial Day brings back haunting memories of his days in uniform.

"I remember walking by the morgue on Monday morning, it'd be piled up with caskets, by Friday, there wouldn't be any caskets there. That always bothered me."

Snellgrove spent 20 years in the Air Force and fought in Vietnam.

"I just can't hardly hold the tears back when I go to one of these services especially when the songs are sang, it really chokes me up."
55-year-old Retired Marine Fred Fitzgerald served in Beirut, Desert Storm and was serving in Somalia during the incident now known as "Black Hawk Down."

"We should take time to remember that freedom isn't free and freedom was paid for by the blood of young men and women, they came from all walks of life."

"You know, take a moment out of your life and say 'thank you' because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have the freedoms that we do. I'm just in awe of living soldiers, they are real American heroes," says Retired U.S. Army Major Gordon Smith.

Monday's Memorial Day program also centered around the eternal flame monument which was renovated a few years ago.

A wreath now adorns the front of it.

"It's just something to keep this going so the younger generation that hasn't been at war much at all will have a little idea."

Retired Air Force Master Sergeant A.C. Miles, who now suffers from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, spent months raising more than $7,000 to replace the monument.

"I'm one of the lucky ones who went to it and came back, a lot of the boys gave it all."

He hopes the significance of Memorial Day, much like the monument's eternal flame, will never die in the hearts and minds of Americans.

Marianna's Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22 hosted Monday's Memorial Day program.

The group also awarded Army Sergeant Reuben Merrett with a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam.

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