The rain could not dampen the spirits of over 300 people at the 27th annual Memorial Day ceremony at Centennial Park in Anniston around midday Monday.
A large tent was at capacity while others found refuge under trees and umbrellas to remember the fallen.
For World War II Navy veteran Billy Ridley of Oxford, the turnout warmed his heart.
“I’m proud to see them, it means a lot to us,” Ridley said while holding hands with his wife, Faye. Ridley was a gunner’s mate on various ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and served eight years.
Prior to the ceremony children were looking at the names on one of the memorial walls as a Vietnam Veteran sat away from the crowd on a bench. Charles Truitt of Anniston had a stoic expression on his face as the rains came. His hat revealed he had won a Purple Heart because he was wounded in combat.
“I got some friends on that wall over there,” Truitt said as he gestured towards the Vietnam Memorial wall. Truitt was also moved by turnout on Monday.
“It means a whole lot,” Truitt said.
The program included songs and tributes to the fallen as well as the Fallen Comrade Ceremony and a remembrance of families through laying of roses.
Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis reflected on the determination of generations that fought previous wars. Members of those generations, from World War II to Vietnam, were worthy of emulation, he said.
“Things that we see as adversity for them was day-to-day life, I’m impressed with that generation.”
One veteran of that generation was recognized during the ceremony. Hillman Prestridge, 93, of Anniston sat on the front row and flashed a smile as his name was mentioned. Prestridge was among the first wave of U.S. troops to go ashore on D-Day in 1944.