Community braves tropical storm to celebrate Fallen heroes
May 31, 2012
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Though the threat of strong winds and heavy rains hung over the Coastal Empire like so many grey clouds in the sky, the weather held up and veterans, civilians, and Soldiers of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Third Infantry Division, came out and celebrated Memorial Day events in Savannah, Ga., May 27 and 28.
"We thought it was going to be one of those days where it just poured," said 1st Sgt. Tomorris S. Robinson, first sergeant of Headquarters and Support Company, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd CAB, 3rd ID. "But the people still came out, regardless of the weather conditions, which is a testament to the magnitude of this event."
Events kicked off the evening of May 27 in Savannah's Emmet Park with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Candlelight Service, hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 671.
Emmet Park is the home of Savannah's Vietnam War Memorial, dedicated by Chapter 671 in 1991, which consists of a large reflecting pool surrounded by steps and a marble block inscribed with the names of the Chatham County Vietnam Soldiers killed in the war.
Veterans, relatives of the Fallen and those paying respect surrounded the reflecting pool to participate in the ceremony.
The wind blew hard but did not discourage the gathering of more than 150 people that included Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson.
The Third Infantry Division Band Brass Quintet played patriotic songs as Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd CAB stood in formation behind them.
Major General Jeffery Phillips, U.S. Army Reserve Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1 section, and former deputy commanding general of the 3rd ID, gave the keynote speech and said that though on Memorial Day we tend to dwell on sacrifices made, the day is also a celebration of life.
"The American spirit is decorated with optimism," said Maj. Gen. Phillips. "As Americans, we do what we've always done -- we look to the future. Even through the gloom of war, and with each conflict, each war, each crisis, we draw from that innate optimism to find that in the end our freedom is worth the sacrifices."
After Maj. Gen. Phillips spoke, Chapter 671 honored those who fought in Vietnam by reading their names and rendering a three-volley salute.
The following day, May 28, members of the American Legion Posts of Chatham County held a service in the veterans' plot of Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah.
The ceremony was dedicated to the memory of those who had given their lives in service to America.
First Sergeant Tomorris S. Robinson, who participated in the wreath-laying segment of the ceremony, said he was enthused at the opportunity to spend his Memorial Day celebration with the veterans of Chatham County.
"I couldn't have found a better way to spend my Memorial Day than being right here," said 1st. Sgt. Robinson.