‘All gave some, some gave all’

Published 9:38 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Annual Memorial Day Service held

The Atmore Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7016 and the American Legion held their annual Memorial Day Service May 27 in the city hall auditorium.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It is a day of commemoration for those who have fallen in action while serving in our nation’s militar y service.

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After an invocation and welcome by Mayor Jim Staff, the National Anthem was sung by Lana Langford and VFW Commander Billy Gates led in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

U.S. Marine Corp.’s Lloyd Albritton, retired, served as the keynote speaker.

Albritton, a published author, spoke about the sacrifices many made on Flanders Fields during several major battles.

“Alexis “Lex” Helmer was only 22 years old when he was killed by a direct hit from an enemy artillery shell during this second of three major battles fought at Ypres during the war,” Albritton said. “He had been literally blown to pieces. Indeed, the bits and pieces of his body had to be gathered up by his comrades for burial in a burlap sack, along with a faded and tattered photo of his beloved fiancé who waited for him back home in Canada. Like so many others who died in Flanders Fields during The Great War, Alexis Helmer was a young man with a promising future ahead of him, if only he could make it through this terrible war.”

Albritton said the red poppy symbolizes the blood shed by all American service members and avows that the wearer will never forget the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen soldiers.

Albritton said while performing the burial ceremony for his friend on May 2, John McCrae noticed the myriad of beautiful red poppies that had sprung up around the graves of the thousands who had already died in battle here.

“The poppy seeds had scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the land was disturbed, as it was by the fierce fighting of World War 1,” he said. “The following day, while sitting forlornly on the rear stoop of a field ambulance looking out over the makeshift graveyard of white crosses where he had buried his friend just the day before, John McCrae wrote his poem, In Flanders Fields.”

Albritton said in Flanders Fields the words are spoken in the voice of the dead. The dead soldiers declare their sacrifice and issue a challenge for their living comrades to carry on, to bravely take up the torch tossed to them by their fallen brothers-in-arms and to hold it high, he said.

Albritton said the United States didn’t enter World War I until April 6, 1917, so there were no American casualties at either of the first two Ypres battles.

“When America finally did enter the war, after three years of unimaginable death and destruction, we committed over 4.5 million American troops to the war effort and approximately 116,000 American men gave their lives in this war,” he said.

Albritton also spoke about the monument in Atmore as well.

“This monument behind me includes the names of 115 Atmore area veterans who died while serving in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan,” he said. “Other monuments like this one stand all across America and throughout the world in honor of the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who gave their lives fighting for our liberty.  All gave some, but some gave all.”