— From staff reports
Residents in Athens and Limestone County are again invited to pay tribute to deceased veterans as part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
The event, presented by American Legion Post 49 with assistance from the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Limestone County Event Center on Pryor Street. This will be the first time in five years the event isn’t held on the L&N loading dock at the museum.
As part of the ceremony, remembrance wreaths will be placed before the stage by representatives of each of the local veterans organizations and auxiliaries. A new veteran’s organization, AMVETS Post 21, will participate for the first time.
American Legion Post 49 Commander Robert Hooie, commander of the American Legion, said the new group would be a “ welcome addition to the ceremony.”
The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 49 will also distribute Buddy Poppies for donations. The poppies are assembled by disabled veterans in Veterans Administration Hospitals.
Buddy Poppies were first used as a symbol of sacrifice and fidelity during the early 1920s, and were inspired by the WW I poem, “In Flander’s Fields,” written on the battlefield by John McCrae in 1915. The Auxiliary uses the proceeds from the poppy donations to support veteran homes, hospitals and rehabilitative services.
The guest speaker at this year’s event will be Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command – Integrated Missile Defense (USASMDC/ARSTRAT).
Formica, who was born and raised in Cheshire, Conn., was commissioned in 1977 upon completion of ROTC at Providence College and graduation from Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. He graduated from the Field Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced courses, and Cannon Battery Officer course.
He is a 1990 graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, where he earned a Master of Military Arts and Sciences. He graduated from the National War College in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in National Security Strategy.
Formica assumed command of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT on Dec. 15. His previous assignment was on the Department of the Army Headquarters (HQDA) staff as special assistant to the chief of staff of the Army where he worked HQDA Air and Missile Defense Task Force and other missile defense related issues.
His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), Bronze Star (with oak leaf cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with five oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Army Achievement Medal (with two oak leaf clusters) and both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army Staff Identification Badges.
— See coverage of Monday’s ceremony in Tuesday’s edition of The News Courier.