ALBANY, Ga. -- Last year there were 158 names on the roll call of Georgians who died in the war against terror in the Mideast. The list grew by 21 this year.
People from a girl scout to veterans of previous wars to one of Albany's finest read the list of the fallen before more than 275 people at the ninth annual Patriots' Day Field of Flags memorial on the north side of the Albany Mall at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"I was honored to be asked to read the names. I felt honored when I read the names," said Albany Police Department Sgt. Kandace Hird. "I also felt sad that they had died."
Memorializing the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack at New York City's World Trade Center and the following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was guest speaker Maj. General James A. Kessler, commander the Marine Corps Logistics Command.
He called on the audience members to remember the fallen, reflect on what the attacks and the response meant and reaffirm their dedication the American ideals of service to country and each other.
"Those who placed themselves between any dangers from another country and our country placed an ideal above all," Kessler said. "Love of country is the defense of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all."
In preparation for the Southwest Georgia Exchange Club sponsored memorial ceremonies Saturday, volunteers planted 1,000 flags on an acre near the mall last weekend. Many of the flags would come down at the end of the day because people had donated to the cost of the event by buying a flag to honor someone.
Doris Jones has never missed a Field of Flags memorial since the tradition began. Her husband, Charles Edwin Jones, a World War II veteran, used to attend with her but he died two years ago. She continues to attend in honor of him. She also donated for a flag.
"My husband marched from the toe of Italy right to the top," Jones said. "I bought a flag for the parents of Capt. Curtis R. Driver. They live in Albany and he died in service to his country."
Not everyone at the event had close ties to the military. At least one Albany resident attended to honor the fallen on 9/11, the others who have died in the wars that followed and those who continue to serve in the military or as emergency personnel.
"I just wanted to celebrate the lives of those who died on 9/11," said Joy Kemp. "I just wanted to show my appreciation for all those who serve us in so many ways in war and emergencies."