Memorial Day ceremony held at McClellan
Tarisha Gibson places a flag at a grave marker at Fort McClellan Military Cemetery as part of Anniston Army Depot’s May 20 Memorial Day event. (Photo Credit: Mark Cleghorn, Anniston Army Depot photographer) VIEW ORIGINAL
Memorial Day ceremony held at McClellan
ANAD Commander Col. Marvin Walker, left, speaks to the small group gathered for the remembrance event. Standing an appropriate social distance from Walker is Col. Jeff Smith, commander of the Alabama National Guard Fort McClellan Training Center, which participated in the event. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- While the COVID-19 pandemic made a large gathering or a traditional ceremony unfeasible, Anniston Army Depot still wanted to ensure remembrance and honor for the service members and their family members interred at the Fort McClellan Military Cemetery for Memorial Day.

“Normally, we would do a ceremony, but, based on the climate and environment we are in with the coronavirus and social distancing, we’ve limited it to a few people,” said Col. Marvin Walker, ANAD’s commander. “That doesn’t take away from the importance of the event.”

Ten current and former service members from ANAD and the Alabama National Guard Fort McClellan Training Center met at the cemetery May 20 to pay their respects and place a flag at each grave marker.

This was Tarisha Gibson’s first time to place the flags for Memorial Day.

Gibson served four years in the Air Force as a supply system analyst and now works in ANAD’s Directorate of Production.

“Being able to place the flags on graves of those who served means so much,” said Gibson.

Kecia Ragland, who also works in DP, served in the Army as a dental assistant. For her, the act of respect shown with the flags is both a duty and an honor.

Ragland has assisted with the depot’s Memorial Day ceremony every year since 2011.

In addition to Walker, six current service members from the Alabama National Guard participated in the event.

Memorial Day was first observed after the Civil War. At the time, it was known as Decoration Day, because families typically decorated gravesites with flowers or flags.

“We use this as an opportunity to pay respects those who sacrificed more of themselves and gave more of themselves in defense of what they believed, in defense of their country, in defense of their families and, basically, in defense of all of us,” said Walker.