Memorial Day events taking place in Covington, Conyers

COVINGTON -- There are several opportunities to commemorate Memorial Day in Newton and Rockdale counties.

American Legion Post 32 in Covington will host its annual ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday at the Legion's monument on the Square in downtown Covington. The keynote speaker will be Rev. Max Vincent, pastor at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford. Newton High School Junior ROTC will be present the colors, the traditional laying of the wreath will take place, along with the reading of each name on the monument that honors fallen soldiers. Jennifer Morganthall, youth director of Covington First United Methodist Church, will sing the national anthem and close the ceremony with the Lord's Prayer.

"I hope people take time enough out of their busy schedules to pay tribute to people that did pay the supreme sacrifice so that we can enjoy the kind of life that we live," said Post Commander Don Floyd.

VFW Post 2938 will not have a formal ceremony, but will be at Tractor Supply at 10161 Lochridge Blvd. in Covington from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday handing out Buddy Poppies. Donations are accepted and will be used to assist local veterans in need, said Post Commander Michael French. The group will also post flags on veterans' graves at Lawnwood Memorial Park on Access Road Monday morning.

With membership declining in recent years, French said the post is currently recruiting. Come to Tractor Supply on Friday for more information or drop by the next meeting at 10 a.m. June 15 at Journey Church, located at 1150 Monticello St. Applicants should bring a certificate of release or discharge from active duty.

In Rockdale, private resident Tom Witcher will once again sponsor a production honoring veterans. The event, titled "Nothing In This World is Free," takes place at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Belmont Baptist Church, located at 3275 Iris Drive.

Witcher, a veteran, started the event four years ago to honor his late father, also a veteran, to recognize veterans, active duty military, local law enforcement, EMS and firefighters.

An honor guard, consisting of volunteers, is being outfitted in the dress uniforms of all four military branches and for Homeland Security and Coast Guard. Rockdale County Sheriff's department will be represented with a color guard. The Honor Guard will be outfitted in the rank and awards of an individual who is currently deployed, a veteran, or a lost member of a family who has served in the U.S. Military, Witcher said.

"Under U.S. Code, since we are conducting a theatrical performance, and representing the uniform with dignity, we are allowed to perform this performance in full military dress," he said.

Volunteers, ranging from 16 to 24 years old, are putting in more than 100 hours into learning military protocol, bearing and conduct to perform in the program, Witcher said.

Entering the event, an 80-foot Wall of Remembrance will display pictures of fallen soldiers.

On stage will be five large screens which will run the names of the lost from both Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Witcher said an emotional memorial performance is planned, with an ensemble of 50 performing "Wounded Soldier," during which the 32 Georgia POW/MIA servicemen will be recognized via static displays.

Following "Wounded Soldier", there will be a POW/MIA Missing Man Table Ceremony, and the Fallen Comrades Table Ceremony. Then there will be a variation of the U.S. Army Last Roll Call, with attendees submitting the names of the lost in their families. A bell will toll for each lost member.

The event will conclude with a bagpipe player and burial flags, wreaths and the POW flag entering the auditorium.

After the wreaths are laid, the Honor Guards will perform a three-round volley, a live bugler will play "Taps" and flags will be folded in honor of the fallen. Local active duty military will be a part of the service.

Also in Rockdale County, the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial will be open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Memorial Day, with an information booth available. A public Memorial Day Ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. The Walk of Heroes is located at 3001 Black Shoals Road within Black Shoals Park.

Pastor Winston Mencies, a Vietnam veteran, will give the keynote speech. Bud Sosebee, founding father of the Walk of Heroes, will receive the community's first annual Medal of Freedom, presented by Roger Rehorn, president of The Rehorn Family Freedom Foundation.

The event will include patriotic songs and will be a "full-fledged Memorial Day ceremony," said Tommy Clack, chairman of the Walk of Heroes board.

American Legion Post 77 in Conyers will host a ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday, but Commander Zeste Debro said he does not have details. A light lunch will be served. The post is located at 674 Legion Road NE.