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Armed Forces Day ceremony ushers in Memorial Day week

Staff report

SALISBURY — An Armed Forces Day ceremony and celebration at City Park on Saturday kicked off the week heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

“It was really, really great,” said Vietnam War veteran Ronnie Smith, a member of the Military Officers Association of America. “It was really a fantastic day.”

Several hundred people attended, according to Smith.

The ceremony was held at the Salisbury Rotary Club’s Patriots Flag Concourse and Memorial at North Jackson and West Miller streets. The concourse stands on the site of the old National Guard Armory.

Many groups and dignitaries participated, including MOAA and Rowan County Veterans Council.

The celebration included a flag-changing ceremony for all service branches. All the flags raised were new.

Patricia Harris of the American Legion National Executive Committee was keynote speaker.

Tanya M. Shannon of American Legion Auxiliary Post 342 introduced Harris.

Smith provided opening and closing remarks. Martha Corriher sang patriotic songs, including the national anthem.

The East Rowan High School Army JROC posted and retrieved the colors. Salisbury VA Chaplain Jason Riggs gave the invocation and benediction.

The Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard saluted fallen servicemen. Retired Master Sgt. Dean Moore of the Rowan County Veterans Council led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hercules Shannon of American Legion Post 343 introduced and welcomed dignitaries. Officials in the crowd included N.C. Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander, City Councilman Ken Hardin and Rowan County Commissioner Greg Edds.

Alexander presented a city proclamation for the day. Gwen Jones read a poem, “Veteran,” written by Lynne Carey in 2004.

Smith noted that this coming Saturday morning, ROTC cadets and Boy Scouts will place thousands of American flags on the graves at Salisbury National Cemetery in both city locations. The active National Cemetery site adjacent to the Hefner VA Medical Center campus is being expanded, and efforts are underway to procure about 37 additional acres, according to Smith.

A Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Salisbury National Cemetery annex, next to the VA hospital. The original Salisbury National Cemetery is off Railroad Street, and that is closed to active burials.

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