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Athens City Hall: AWOL on Memorial Day


By Michael H. McLendon

Monday the 27th was Memorial Day, the day we as a nation set aside to remember and honor the over 1.4 million men and women who died while on active duty in the service of our nation.

Most towns and communities across the nation recognized Memorial Day and its meaning, but not City Hall in Athens.

These men and women, like all who have servedand continue to serve, took an oath to protect and defend each of us. They did this knowing they were placing their lives in harm’s way with no guarantee they would return. Most of these brave men and women we remember on this day rest in one of the 172 U.S cemeteries in the United States or its territories or in one of the 26 US national cemeteries found in 16 foreign countries.

The only public mention of Memorial Day by the ACC government was to include a US Flag on its web site announcing that it is a holiday and informing citizens about the holiday trash pick-up schedule. There was no proclamation from Mayor Girtz, no ceremony, no mention of this important day by the Commission or even a resolution, and not even a few words on the ACC web site about honoring those who gave their lives in service to their country. To the Mayor and the City Manager, it was just another day off.

It is disapproving that Mayor Girtz and his regime are so out of touch, but we should not be surprised. He also did not show leadership to officially recognize military veterans on Veterans Day and to orchestrate any remembrance on Patriots Day.

In stark contrast, ACC widely celebrated Earth Day and recognize it as a paid holiday for employees. And the Mayor had the time and desire to work in secret for three years to turn Athens into a refugee resettlement site. His priorities are obvious.

Just Some Thoughts to Educate the Mayor and his Regime

Mayor, Georgia is home to over 69,000 active-duty military members and their families; over 69K guard and reserve members and their families; 690K veterans and their families; and 5,400 veterans who live in Clarke County not counting their families and the families of veterans who are no longer with us. You should also remember the long history of Clarke County in support of the U.S military because of the Navy Supply Corp School, UGAs Army and Air Force ROTC, and the Jr. ROTC in CCSD.

There are so many veterans in the area that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a local health care clinic to serve them. There are also many veterans attending UGA using their veteran benefits along with active-duty service members being sent to UGA for graduate school and PhD programs that UGA has a Student Veterans Resource Center.

Mayor, as a nation we observe Patriot’s Day annually on September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance of the tragic events that occurred at the World Trade Center in 2001. Although it is not a federal holiday, Patriot Day is observed throughout many states with memorials and ceremonies. If not for a local Athens organization, there would have been no event of remembrance and recognition of our first responders in 2023. As I recall, you were asked to speak at that event and then quickly departed.

Mayor, Memorial Day is always an important time of remembrance of perhaps the greatest moment in world history in the fight for freedom. This year Memorial Day has greater significance than most years.

This Memorial Day marks the 20thAnniversary of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. and it begins the remembrance of the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, on 6 June 1944.

For this 80th anniversary, American Airlines will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France by flying 70 World War II veterans to France on a donated charter flight to honor them for their service and sacrifice. One of those veterans making the trip to Normandy is 108 and he will be accompanied by his son who lives in Oconee County. You can watch the ceremony at 6:30 A.M. on 6 June. I encourage you to watch it, you might learn something.

Mayor, we should not talk about Memorial Day without paying our respects to someone that many may have forgotten, Athensresident Moina Belle Michael. Her life is reason enough for Athens to remember and publicly recognize Memorial Day. Many articles could be written about her and her valued contributions. She is forever linked to the history of Memorial Day because of the Red “Buddy” Poppy, the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by the Canadian Army doctor John McCrae, and her poem in response “We Shall Keep the Faith.”

Monia Michael passed away in 1944 and she is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery in Monroe. Her picture is displayed in the lobby of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Clinic on Highway 29. It would be wonderful if all CCSD students were taught about her and what she did that should inspire us all.

Parting Thoughts

It is sad that City Hall is out of touch with the sacrifices so many have made for their country. For some reason, the mayor and his regime cannot officially recognize Veterans Day, Patriot Day, and Memorial Day in word and deed. Perhaps it is their ideology, or they just do not care. But we do know they get exuberant and almost act like they are in a worship service in extoling Earth Day! I can hear the response of the mayor and city manager now to my comments...”well, we are going to have the Star Spangled Classic on 3 July.”

There are likely many people in Athens that recall family and friends going off to war, some returningalive, and some resting in a family or veteran cemetery. Some remember sitting by the radio listening to the news about the Normandy invasion remember families being notified of the death of a loved one. Many Athenians are proud to have brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren serving in the military around the world today.

Let us not forget the nearly 81,000 American service members still missing in action. For their families there is no closure even though their name may be etched in stone along with where they were lost. The stories that are told over and over to each generation and on this Memorial Day are important lest we never forget.

Mayor, just posting a U.S. Flag on the ACC web site does not cut it! It is time for you to report for duty! Redirect your time and energy away from fighting the recall effort you deemed as not a serious matter. Make it a priority to recognizethose who gave the most and do each day, even for those who could care less.

 

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11 Comments


Thanks Michael! I can think of no more hallowed day than Memorial Day.

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Thank you, Michael. I don’t presume to speak for all veterans but I am reasonably confident that many of my brothers and sisters would appreciate you calling out the local political shitshow that calls itself the ACC Commission.

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Is anybody surprised about this?! It's obvious that the mayor and the ACC Commissioners have heavy contempt and resentment towards the military and its veterans, just like they do towards the police.

After all, did our mayor or anybody ever commission ever have the minerals to serve their country in a military capacity? I would say that the thought of doing so, putting on the uniform of our country to defend it, made them nauseous and went against every misguided liberal principal that they hold dear to their heart

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Replying to

So if the mayor was playing golf, that would be ok with you? Make up your minds

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A great way to honor and celebrate our veterans is to never vote or support politicians or political parties who continuously vote no on legislation intended for our veterans.

Otherwise, you are deceitful about your support of veterans and any celebratory displays are a manipulation tool.

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Replying to

Well said.

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