Memorial Day is coming up Monday, and ceremonies are scheduled in recognition of the holiday in both Anniston and Piedmont.
The 29th annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Anniston’s Centennial Memorial Park is set for 11 a.m. Monday, while Piedmont will hold its ceremony at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Park, located on Memorial Drive.
“For any veteran, we all have something called survivor’s guilt,” said Ken Rollins, a local veteran who organizes Anniston’s yearly event. “Memorial Day is about honoring those who were killed in the line of duty.”
Rollins said Monday’s event, which will last around an hour, will feature live music in addition to a “fallen comrade” ceremony and rifle volley salute to honor fallen members of the military.
This year’s ceremony will feature a keynote speaker in retired Rear Adm. Kent Davis, current commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.
Davis served more than 30 years in both the U.S. Army and Navy before holding various civil service positions, including serving as Anniston’s city manager prior to leaving the position in 2017.
“He knows how appreciative he is to have come back safely,” Rollins said of Davis. “He’ll be speaking on those that didn’t make it.”
Rollins, who has helped plan the memorial service every year since it began in 1990, said he does it as thanks to those who he said were not as lucky as him.
“For me personally, it’s a way for me to pay my respects,” Rollins said.
Anniston’s Centennial Memorial Park, which has been home to the event since its inception, houses a monument naming Alabamians killed in military action. Rollins said the monument, which he estimates has 10,300 names on it, serves as a reminder of what Memorial Day means.
“We throw around words like ‘the price of freedom,’” Rollins said. “Looking at all the names of those that have passed, that’s like the receipt for that price.”
Piedmont will hold its gathering to honor fallen members of the military on Saturday due to weather concerns on Monday, Mayor Bill Baker said. The Piedmont chapter of the Disabled American Veterans is hosting the event.
“This is being handled by the DVA,” Baker said. “We appreciate them taking the lead on it. As a city we can support them.”
There will be bleacher seating provided by the city at the event, but Baker encouraged attendees to bring a lawn chair in case bleachers fill up.