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SWGA celebrates Memorial Day

American Legion Post 512 Commander Maurice Jones listens as Joann Wilson, American Legion Auxiliary member and former educator, gives an address at the post’s Memorial Day breakfast on Monday. The breakfast was among a number of events held in the area in recognition of Memorial Day.

American Legion Post 512 Commander Maurice Jones listens as Joann Wilson, American Legion Auxiliary member and former educator, gives an address at the post’s Memorial Day breakfast on Monday. The breakfast was among a number of events held in the area in recognition of Memorial Day.

ALBANY, Ga. — From barbecues to the more than 100 handmade wooden crosses on the lawn of the Albany Mall, there have been signs in the Good Life City and throughout Southwest Georgia over the last few days that recognition was being paid to those who gave their all for the sake of freedom.

Throughout the weekend, both American Legion posts in Albany — as well as other organizations in the region — gave acknowledgment in their own way of Memorial Day over the weekend and into the Monday holiday.

Joann Wilson, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and a former educator, gave those at the American Legion Post 512 Memorial Day breakfast Monday some perspective by using the event’s program to make her point on the significance of the day.

“If you are reading this program, you can thank a teacher,” she said at the beginning of her remarks. “It you can read it in English, you can thank a veteran.”

After giving some background on the holiday that used to be known as Decoration Day, she reminded those at the breakfast on the importance of never losing focus on what the day is about.

“We must never forget what our heroes have done and what we have lost,” Wilson said. “...Honoring the lost once a year is not enough.”

Through the weekend, there were 122 wooden crosses on the Albany Mall lawn, one for each combat death of a Dougherty County servicemember from World War I onward. One was for Joseph Odom — an Albany World War II servicemember who died in battle, and for whom Post 512 is named after.

“It is important for all veterans and families to pause and reflect; we owe (those who made the ultimate sacrifice) no less,” Wilson said. “We do so in reverence and with a grateful heart.

“Without that sacrifice, we would not be where we are today.”

Following the breakfast, Post 512 hosted a barbecue at its headquarters on Willie Pitts Jr. Road at 2 p.m., an hour before the national moment of remembrance that is observed at the same time every year on the holiday.

The wooden crosses at the mall, which was the site of a memorial service at 4 p.m. on Sunday, were displayed beginning early Saturday. They were handmade by Bill Brooks of Albany, who was assisted by American Legion Post 30.

Various other entities celebrated the day, including the Andersonville National Historic Site — where Memorial Day is considered to be among the most important dates on the park’s calendar.

The park, the grounds for which was used as a Civil War military prison known as Camp Sumter, commemorated the day by raising of the Avenue of Flags — a row of American flags on the principal drive leading up to the Andersonville National Cemetery — on Friday.

On Saturday, volunteers from throughout the state placed flags in the cemetery — which followed the next day by a 2 p.m. observance program. The flags are set to be removed today.