2023 Memorial Day at Andersonville

The National Park Service hosted the annual Memorial Day observance on Sunday, May 28th at Andersonville National Cemetery. The Historic Site was decorated with flags including all 50 state flags at the National Prisoner of War Museum, the Avenue of Flags along the roads in the Cemetery and the small flags placed at each of the 20,400+ graves. Rolling Thunder Chapter III placed the Avenue of Flags in the Cemetery a week before the holiday. On Saturday morning, over 200 volunteers, including various youth groups, came to the cemetery for placing flags at each headstone. This tradition of connecting young people with this patriotic act of service is an important educational outreach of the park.

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop (3rd Dist. Ga.) introduced the principal speaker, Colonel Rob Choppa, U.S. Army, Retired. Colonel Choppa held many leadership assignments in the Army in multiple locations around the world. At his address, Colonel Choppa talked about the meaning of Memorial Day. He spoke about those soldiers whom he commanded in Iraq and Afghanistan who lost their lives in combat and how their sacrifice for our nation should never be forgotten. Superintendent Gia Wagner served as Mistress of Ceremonies and in her welcome invited those in attendance to come back to the National Cemetery the following day for the funeral of Corporal Luther Story. The U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence Band provided inspirational music for the day. The Color Guard Team of American Legion Post 30 the colors for the program. Pastor Don Cauley of the Grace Church in Perry, offered both the invocation and benediction. Friends Chair, Fred Boyles, recognized all veterans and service members in attendance. Prior to the playing of Taps by the band, wreaths were presented by various service organizations.

 

2022 Memorial Day

2022 Memorial Day at Andersonville
By: Fred Boyles

After a two-year hiatus, Memorial Day was back at Andersonville National Cemetery. The park was adorned with flags including all 50 state flags at the National Prisoner of War Museum, the Avenue of Flags along the roads in the Cemetery and the small flags placed at each of the 20,400+ graves. Rolling Thunder Chapter III placed the Avenue of Flags in the Cemetery a week before the holiday. On Saturday morning over 240 volunteers, including various youth groups, descended on the cemetery for the huge task of placing flags at each headstone. This tradition of connecting young people with this patriotic act of service is an important educational outreach of the park.

Memorial Day Band

The traditional ceremony took place on Sunday afternoon, May 29th. Superintendent Gia Wagner welcomed the 200 visitors gathered and noted how wonderful it was to hold the event after taking two years off due to the pandemic. The U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence Band led by Staff Sergeant Johnson provided inspirational music for the day. The Americus Fire Department Color Guard provided the national ensign for the program. Father Richard Nelson, Rector of Cavalry Episcopal Church in Americus, offered both the invocation and benediction. Friends Chair, Fred Boyles, recognized all veterans and service members in attendance. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop (2nd Dist., Ga.) spoke about the significance of the holiday and introduced the speaker, Lieutenant Colonel James E. Wolfe, USAF, (Ret.). Lt Col Wolfe is the Commander of the John D. Mathis Post 2, American Legion. His inspiring remarks focused on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country. Prior to the playing of Taps by the band, wreaths were presented by various service organizations.

“This being my first Memorial Day Service, I was moved by how many people came to the park to take in the beauty of the place and to remember those who gave their lives for all of us,” stated Gia Wagner, “I especially appreciate the efforts of our volunteers who assisted our staff to make the holiday meaningful to our visitors.”

The Friends of Andersonville provided financial support for the weekend’s events through the Andersonville Trust.

Presents at this year’s Memorial Day were from left to right, Father Richard A. Nelson, Calvary Episcopal Church, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop (2nd District, Georgia), Superintendent Gia Wagner, Andersonville NHS and Lt. Col. James E. Wolfe, USAF (Ret.) Commander, John D. Mathis Post, American Legion.