Patriotic sponsors help celebrate event in Peachtree City

Thu, 05/15/2008 - 4:32pm
By: The Citizen

Thanks to the generous contributions of local sponsors, organizers of the Peachtree City Memorial Day celebration have been able to offer food and beverages to spectators and participants for the past three years.

So far for 2008, sponsors who have contributed are: Kroger stores of Peachtree City, Better Bodies Fitness (World Gym), Walmart of Peachtree City, Publix stores in Peachtree City, Starbucks of Peachtree City, Bank of North Georgia and World Airways. However it’s not too late to be a sponsor.

“We could still use in-kind donations, such as donuts or bagels, because this portion of the event is community funded,” said Becky Kimble, Memorial Day hospitality coordinator. Interested sponsors may call Kimble at 770-631-2542. Last year, due to heavy spectator turnout, most food and beverage items were consumed before the event ended.

The 10th annual Peachtree City Memorial Day Celebration on Monday, May 26, will start at 9 a.m. again this year. Event organizers said the new start time was introduced two years ago and has led to higher attendance numbers, estimated at nearly 1,000 people last year.

The Kiwanis Club of Peachtree City, VFW Post 9949, American Legion post 50 and the City’s Leisure Services Division jointly sponsor this event. Call 770-631-2542 for more information.

“We have been very pleased to see more families with children coming out to pay respects to those who have died in service to their nation and in the name of freedom and peace,” said Randy Gaddo, the event’s planner.

Gaddo, a retired Marine, is also this year’s featured speaker. He will talk about the connection between the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut with the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the current Global War on Terror. As national president of the Beirut Veterans of America (BVA), Gaddo represents more than 1,000 service members and surviving families of the 220 Marines, 18 Sailors and 3 Soldiers killed in that bombing and the other 29 servicemen killed in Lebanon during a multi-national peacekeeping mission between 1982-84.

Gaddo was a Marine staff sergeant in Beirut at the time of the bombing.

“There is a direct connection between the terrorists responsible for the Beirut bombing and the murderers responsible for 9-11,” said Gaddo, who was founding vice president of the BVA in 1992. “We have come to realize that the Beirut Bombing was the first major shot fired in the Global War on Terror.”

The Memorial Day Celebration unofficially begins at 8:30 a.m. with the traditional patriotic golf cart procession from the Gathering Place around Lake Peachtree to City Hall Plaza, the site of the official celebration. The public is invited to join the procession. More than 200 golf carts, many patriotically decorated, are normally involved and will leave the Gathering Place parking lot about 8:30 a.m. heading for City Hall.

Singing groups will begin performing introductory music at City Hall/Library plaza at 8:30 a.m. At 9 a.m. when the golf cart procession arrives, honors to the flag will commence, followed by a memorial wreath presentation by the local VFW Post 9949 and American Legion Post 50.

The top winner of the Kiwanis-sponsored Memorial Day student essay contest will read his or her winning entry and all top finishers will receive awards. This year’s theme is “The First Duty Is To Remember,” the motto of the BVA.

“The BVA exists to ensure that America does not forget that, in total, 270 of her finest died in Lebanon in the name of peace between 1982 and 1984,” said Gaddo. “For us, every day is Memorial Day.”

The 2007 co-winners of VFW Post 9949’s annual essay contest, the “Patriots Pen,” will read their winning entries as well.

The event is held outdoors at the VFW Memorial in City Hall/Library Plaza unless weather turns inclement, when it is moved across the street to the First Presbyterian Church.

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