As members of the Griffin High School JROTC positioned the flag-covered casket, wreaths were carried out one-by-one by the Griffin Civil Air Patrol cadets and placed on the lawn.
Bill Shivers, who served in Korea and Germany, told the crowd that “the cost of freedom comes at a high price in human tears” and that they were there to honor those “who paid the ultimate price in the name of peace and freedom.”
Two more flags, honoring Henry Mashburn, who served in World War II and the Korean War, and Willis Hardcastle, who served in World War II, were also added to the Avenue of Flags, comprised of casket flags, lining the park.
It was a particularly special day for Donna Walker. Her uncle, 1st Sgt. Noah “Freckles” Barfield, was the first Spalding County resident killed in action in World War II when he died in Belgium on May 14, 1944. Walker and her son-in-law David Knight had been able to obtain Barfield’s medals, including his Purple Heart, Bronze Star and African Middle Eastern Medal, and have them displayed in a shadow box. They were presented to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5448 for display.
And, in addition to listing the names in the program of veterans who died since last Memorial Day, Commander Daniel Ham of VFW Post 5448 called the names of three area soldiers who recently lost their lives. The most recent was Barnesville resident Master Sgt. David Nathaniel Weaver, who died in Afghanistan May 18.
Pike County resident Becky Watts’ husband spent a year in Iraq in 2004, and she comes from a military family.
“This is what we do and how I raise my children,” she said of the annual program. “Kids need to understand freedom isn’t free.”
And, after the playing of “Taps” and Dr. Bruce Reid’s bagpipe medley, Seaman Nathaniel Clark, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1970, lingered to salute.
“It’s a time to remember our fallen comrades,” Clark said of his 25th year attending the ceremony. “Thank God for this country and for freedom.”