Memorial Day 2019 observances in Fayetteville and Peachtree City draw big crowds —
Large crowds attended the Memorial Day ceremonies held May 27 in Peachtree City and Fayetteville. Hot temperatures did not dissuade those who wanted to pay their respects to America’s fallen military members.
The Fayetteville ceremony at Patriot Park included the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard, the Fayette County High School Band and remarks from Brigadier General Rock Donahue and Mayor Ed Johnson. Helicopter fly-overs and a roll call of the war dead from Fayette County ward dead were included in the solemn ceremony.
The main speaker at the Peachtree City ceremony was local resident Anh Nguyen. His home at age 13 was Hue. It was on Jan. 31, 1968, near the beginning of the Tet Offensive, that Nguyen’s city became the site of carnage.
Explaining that the Tet New Year was underway, Nguyen said the events of that day altered his life.
“As I opened the window on the third floor, I was greeted with a burst of gunfire and followed by a screaming voice that ordered me to close my window. Across the street I could see the Viet Cong preparing by digging their trenches, hiding in their bunkers,” Nguyen said. “Within a few minutes, we realized the VC occupied Hue city. Around 9:15 a.m. I could hear the rumbling sound that vibrated the street. I peeked through a small window, and I saw a convoy of Marine tanks and trucks approaching the An-Cuu bridge.
“As the leading tank cleared the bridge, I saw a streak of smoke firing. All hell broke loose, the heavy gunfire started in all directions. After the smoke cleared, I witnessed three Marines that jumped off the tanks were shot and killed, probably the first casualties of the Battle of Hue.”
The battle continued as the days wore on. It was on Feb. 22 that the residents of Hue saw a change when several U.S. helicopter gunships were seen flying at low altitude along the riverbank.
“We saw the pilots and door gunners wave at us with smiling faces. We were so relieved because there was no more gunfire for the first time in what seemed like an eternity,” he explained. “We felt like we were in heaven. We were welcomed by U.S. Marines who would stand to guard us on either side of the highway. It was one of the most beautiful sights we had ever seen.”
It was earlier in the Peachtree City ceremony that Vietnam veteran and Peachtree City Councilman Mike King noted the significance of Memorial Day.
“Those of you seated or standing here today took the trouble this morning to honor our nation’s fallen, so you are already aware of the true meaning of Memorial Day. You realize that today stands for much more than BBQ’s, the year’s first trip to the lake or summer pool openings. Memorial Day symbolizes the true cost of freedom and is about the very heart and soul of America,” King said.
King continued, saying “As we honor the fallen, we’re soon to realize that since there are so many names throughout our nation’s history, we find that we are slow in understanding that each name is but one story of a family’s broken heart. These are stories that simply get lost in the numbers, but they are all stories of sacrifice that as a nation we cannot forget.
The Memorial Day ceremony in Peachtree City was assisted by the Marine Corps League, VFW Post 9949 and American Legion Post 50.
The Memorial Day ceremony in Fayetteville was presented by American Legion Post 105 and VFW Post 3650.