May 27--HUNTSVILLE -- There was something different about this particular Monday.
An unmistakable, yet palatable calm was in the air over Huntsville. What made this Monday so special was that it was Memorial Day.It was a day this nation, and particularly this community, paused to honor those military heroes who served this country and protected its way of life and gave their lives in its defense.
More than 200 people gathered at the Walker County Storm Shelter on Monday as the HEARTS Veterans Museum hosted its annual Memorial Day service.
Overcast skies and rain seem to compliment the solemn yet joyous reverence of the evening. Services began with military precision, the snap and pageantry of the posting of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 114 along with a prayer given by Fellowship of Huntsville Pastor and United States Marine Corps veteran C.F. Hazlewood who prayed that "all Americans remember those who are not celebrating but grieving on this day."
The Huntsville Community Men's Choir performed an Armed Services Medley with members in the audience standing as their military branch's song was played. Each member from their particular branch displayed service pride and rivalry with a host or Army "Hooahs" at the end of that branches "As the Army Keeps Rolling Along" song.
The evening's master of ceremonies, retired Lt.Col. Champe Miller gave a brief history of Memorial Day dating back to when it was called Decoration Day.
"This is a day when we perpetuate the legacy of those who fought and of those gave their lives in defense of our freedom," he said.
The night took on a distinctly spiritual air as the Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church, under the direction Donall Williams, sang three selections. The first was a soulful rendition of "God Bless America", followed by the up-lifting "Every Praise to Our God," and ending to a standing ovation with "That's Why I Praise You."
"Huntsville is the most patriotic city in the country," said state Sen. Charles Schwertner, the event's keynote speaker. "This is the day we honor all those who gave their last full measure for our country."
The senator spoke of the memory of his father, a former B-52 pilot in Vietnam, and the Cold War. Schwertner spoke of the pride he felt as his father "put on his crisp uniform and the snappy salutes he rendered" at his ballgames as a child.
"Even then as a child I always feared that each time he left home that perhaps that would be the last time I saw my dad," he said. "But I had so much pride in him because I knew what he was doing was for America, what he was doing was for all of us.
"Those of us who never served can never know the horrors of war," Schwertner continued. "But we do know what it's like to watch them leave. They form the backbone of our liberty in which no holiday can ever truly repay for injuries seen and those unseen. The enduring legacy that we should have is to live the best we can and live a life worthy of theirs."
As the evening drew to a close "Taps" was played to honor America's fallen heroes. A short movie was played depicting soldiers from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf/Iraq wars.
The film ended with a stirring message -- "Imagine if your job description said save the world."
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