Jeff Creel, commander of the Sons of the American Legion, prepares slabs of ribs Thursday for the annual Hawkins B. Carter American Legion Post No. 255 barbecue fund-raiser. The Memorial Day weekend sale will continue through Sunday at the post in Fultondale.

By Melanie Patterson

The North Jefferson News

On Monday, Americans everywhere will celebrate Memorial Day.

For some, it’s just a free day off work. But for others it’s much more.

Veterans groups in particular do what the title “Memorial Day” suggests - they memorialize military men and women who have died in service to the United States.

Today at Oakwood Memorial Gardens in Gardendale, the Knights of Columbus will host a 6:30 p.m. Memorial Day ceremony, with the Fultondale Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 10250 in attendance.

“They have a very nice memorial service,” said VFW post commander Robert Mattox.

Then on Monday, the Hawkins B. Carter American Legion Post No. 255 and the VFW Post No. 10250 will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will be at Veterans Memorial Park outside the building both groups share off of U.S. Hwy. 31 in Fultondale, just south of Walker Chapel Road.

The guest speaker is Richard A Font, state of Alabama American Legion dept. commander.

Post leaders expect a big crowd for the event.

One of the highlights of the ceremony will be when officials read aloud the names of eight veterans whose names will be etched onto the North Jefferson Memorial Wall.

At the reading of each name, Greg and Susan McGill will release a white dove.

The veterans who will be added to the Memorial Wall this year are:

• J.D. Foster; U.S. Army; WWII; Aug. 31, 1923 - Oct. 19, 2005

• Samuel E. Hays; U.S. Army; WWII; Dec. 21, 1921 - April 12, 2008

• George H. Leitch; U.S. Army; Korea; Jan. 6, 1937 - Jan. 30, 2008

• Phillip J. Reeves Jr.; U.S. Navy; April 1, 1979 - Oct. 20, 2003

• John W. Sharit Jr.; U.S. Navy; WWII; Aug. 21, 1923 - June 12, 2005

• Thomas D. Sparman; U.S. Marines; Korea; Dec. 17, 1934 - March 7, 2008

• John Vlahakes; U.S. Army; WWII; Dec. 29, 1918 - May 12, 2007

• Nick Vlahakes; U.S. Army Air Corps; WWII; Jan. 23, 1920 - Feb. 12, 2007

The VFW Honor Guard will also be there to post the colors, fold the American flag, fire a 21-gun salute and play Taps.

Kathy Hallmark will sing “God Bless America” and Bill McFerrin will sing “Proud to be an American.”

Representatives with Woodmen of the World will present a new American flag to the post.

Memorial Day ceremonies have a long history.

The holiday dates back to the Civil War. It was originally called Decoration Day because observers put flowers on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers at Arlington Cemetery, according to

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day differs from Veterans Day (Nov. 11) in that the latter honors all veterans, both living and dead.

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