Veteran Paul Murray salutes from the audience as Marilyn McClelland sings the National Anthem at the Patriots’ Field of Flags 9/11 Memorial in Albany Tuesday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- People mourned our fallen, whether by cowardly terrorist attack or in war, with tears and determination after 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The 11th annual Patriots' Field of Flags 9/11 Memorial on the grass behind the Albany Mall brought out about 300 in respect for the dead and those who continue to serve.
One didn't need to be a veteran to appreciate the sacrifices made by those in the service, said Bill Wright, an Albany resident.
"They are heroes and role models for us," Wright said as he looked over the 1,000 flags planted in the field for the memorial. "They are who our children should look up to and emulate."
In the past year, 13 have died in the war against terror in the Middle East. Marvin Mixon of American Legion Post 30, which organized the event, said their names would be read at the memorial.
Speaking before the reading of the names, Marine Col. Donald Davis, commander of Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany spoke of the attacks on 9/11 and service to country by members of the community.
"Eleven years ago, this country was met with an unprecedented and unpredicted assault on our way of life when attacks occurred on 9/11," Davis said. "For 11 years we have been at war. Many of these men and women who we will soon recognize made the choice to serve after the attack took place."
They knew there would be sacrifice and they made it, Davis said. "They paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can sleep in our beds peacefully at night."
Among the names read was Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton, of Leesburg. Sutton's wife Toni and his father Gene broke down in tears when Ray Humphrey, commander of America Legion Post 30 presented them with a flag in Sutton's memory.
Choking back his emotions, Mixon said, "It is never easy" as he announced the presentation.
The ceremony did not forget the first responders, those who run toward catastrophe to save lives when others do not. Nor did it forget those dead on 9/11 in the attacks that wounded, but did not defeat, the nation.
"We can reaffirm our love of the flag and country," said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, "and honor and show our love for their sacrifices."