On the last Monday in May, patriots assembled  in the auditorium of the Carl Vinson Medical Center to honor those men and women of our country who gave their lives as the last true measure of devotion in the service of our country.

They came to pay homage to fallen heroes of our country as well as to pray for those who still serve in our country at their posts around the world and that they will return from their missions to the safety of their homes and families.

Master of Ceremonies Johnny  Payne thanked Brenda Holloway for displaying the belongings of her uncle, Sgt.  Charles Lamar Taylor, who was killed in the Philippines in Jan. 1945 and whose personal belongings were kept by a Texas family for 68 years before being returned to the family a few months ago.  

Payne also cited Commissioner Buddy Adams for his massive and educational display of World War I and World War II memorabilia.

The program could not go without mentioning and applauding Frank Brooks on his last official day of supervising and planning Memorial Day services.

“This gentleman is always  behind the scenes and has always been a tremendous asset to these programs,” Payne declared.

A personal moment of remembrance was held to recognize the late Mrs. Louise Purvis, a Gold Star Mother,  who rarely missed a Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day ceremony in the forty-five years following the death of her son, Jimmy Bedgood, in the Vietnam War.

John Barrow, 12th District Congressman, reflected on the proceedings by saying,  “At the end of each year we stop to recognize those folks who have served our nation and returned back home. But, in the spring time, we recognize those folks who were cut down in their primes, the ones who wore the uniform and did not come back home.”

“God bless the men and women who gave their lives to make our country free,” the Congressman concluded.

Dick Burrell and Clay Young presented special music, singing separately and together in heart wrenching, tenor duo performance of “The Last True Measure of Devotion.”

North Carolina farm girl and valedictorian of the Wakeland High School Class of 1931. Meta Monteleon, spoke to the gathering, recalling her early nursing career which began as a  Red Cross nurse at Fort McLellan in 1940.  When the war broke out in December 1941, Monteleon left her classrooms at Yale University to join the Army Nursing Corps in the summer of 1942.  Stationed at Camp Gordon, Georgia until her discharge in the spring of 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Monteleon retired after a 50-year career as a registered nurse at the age of 72, more than a quarter century ago.

“I can’t believe that I have been asked to speak before all of these veterans and these important people.  I have always felt that because I didn’t go to a war zone that my service as a nurse was not so special,” the former nurse confessed.

While stationed at Camp Gordon, Monteleon nursed many German prisoners of war.

“Not many people realized the large number of German POWs in the country, 350,000 in all,” the nearly 99-year-old remarked about her German patients, many of whom she developed friendships with, including a doctor who saw neither of them as combatants.

“My years as an Army nurse were the best years of all, exciting and fulfilling, said the retired nurse who recommends a nursing career to young people as an opportunity to meet nice people and broaden their life experiences.

“I am proud to be in this room with those  who have served,” Monteleon concluded.

Retired Lt. Colonel Stan Couey spoke on the importance of Memorial Day.  Couey, a 1975 graduate of Dublin High School and a distinguished military graduate of Presbyterian College, is the current Headmaster of Trinity Christian School.

“Their sacrifices are our mandates.  Our challenge is to remember them,” Col. Couey proclaimed.

The awardee of the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal, Couey declared that Memorial Day should be an important day in America - a day to remember those who gave their lives to protect our country.

“In reality, we should be thankful every day,” Couey asserted.

The 20-year veteran of the Army is grateful for his service as it helped him to better understand patriotism and the sacrifices of those who have served, those who serve today and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free.

“We should remember those men and women  forever and keep them in our hearts,” Couey commented as he directed the audience’s attention to the poppy he wore on his lapel.

“When I think of Memorial Day, I think of those people, who without their sacrifices, we and others around the world would not have the freedoms we enjoy,” Couey concluded.

Gus Albritton and MSGT Roderick McNeil presented a wreath in memory of the veterans who  gave the last true measure of devotion.

There were few dry eyes in the house after Georgia’s State Bagpiper Dan Bray’s usual soul stirring rendition of Amazing Grace and Clay Young’s pride swelling performance of God Bless the U.S.A. concluded the afternoon service.