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A group of Korean War veterans salute during Wetumpka’s annual Memorial Day observance held at the city cemetery Monday morning. Photo by Peggy Blackburn
A group of Korean War veterans salute during Wetumpka’s annual Memorial Day observance held at the city cemetery Monday morning. Photo by Peggy Blackburn

Honoring the fallen

Published 10:00am Thursday, May 30, 2013

Small American flags fluttered above many of the graves in the We­tumpka City Cemetery earlier this week – presenting silent testimony to the sacrifices local residents made in the service of the United States.
About 100 people gathered at the cemetery Monday for the city’s annual Memorial Day observance, remembering those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
“There are a couple of people I’d like to remember today,” said Judd Elliott, Post Commander of VFW Post 4572 in Wetumpka. “One of those is Jack DeVenney, who died last week. The VFW will miss him; the City of Wetumpka will miss him; the whole county will miss him.
“The other is Steve Johnson, who was also one of our VFW members.”
Elliott encouraged attendees to remember all those who gave their lives in service to the United States.
“They fought for our country; they fought for our freedom,” he said.
Monday’s ceremony in­cluded prayers, speakers and placement of a memorial wreath.
Larry Dozier, one of the guest speakers, said Memorial Day offers an opportunity for citizens to say thank you to those who defend the country.
“We should express our great gratitude to those who lost their lives in service of our country,” he said. “Today we must remember that our liberties did not come cheaply.”
Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis echoed those sentiments.
“I just want to thank our veterans; and I want to thank those who gave it all” he said. “I also want to thank the Boy Scouts for being here today and placing the flags.”
Willis also took a few moments to pay tribute to Jack DeVenney.
“I think I saw more patriotism in Jack’s life than anywhere else. In Jack I watched a man who loved his country; who loved the military. He didn’t let a day go by that he didn’t talk about veterans.”
Willis said city officials plan to name a large meeting room in the city administrative building in DeVenney’s honor. The room is currently being finished with installation of flooring.
DeVenney’s wife, Shirley, read a passage from one of her husband’s many Memorial Day speeches.
“Lest we forget,” she read. “Visit the veteran, talk to his family. Tell them how much they mean to you.”
Rep. Joe Hubbard also spoke briefly during the service.
“Memorial Day is not about politics,” he said. “It is about those who served and gave their all.”
To conclude the service, members of the Ladies Auxiliary placed a memorial wreath and “Taps” was played.
Following the observance, attendees were invited to the local VFW Post for an open house and reception.
The event is hosted annually by Smith-Leonard VFW Post 4572, its Ladies Auxiliary and Korean War Veterans Charter 263.
A Memorial Day observance has been held in Wetumpka since the early 1970s.

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