Celebrate Memorial Day in Haywood

May 22, 2013
Photo by: Donated photos Pictured above, is Jim Danek, who served in Korea as an Army Airborne Ranger, as he places flags on the crosses in memory of those killed in action. Below is Canton World War II veteran Paul Willis. At bottom, is veteran Dick Alexander, also of Canton. Willis and Alexander are featured in two public television documentaries to be aired Memorial Day.

Honor all veterans this Memorial Day by attending one of the Memorial Day celebrations that will be held in Haywood County this weekend. From ceremonies honoring veterans to family-friendly cook-outs, there will be plenty of meaningful events in Canton, Waynesville or Maggie Valley. All holiday activities will pay tribute to the country’s veterans, who have given so much.

Events will be held Monday, May 27:

• Canton

There will be a Canton Memorial Day Program and Celebration at the Canton Recreation Park on Penland Street. A free hot dog picnic will be provided  by Mayor Mike Ray and a patriotic program has been  planned to honor those who have served the country.
“Bring your lawn chairs and come enjoy the patriotic program, special music by Leslie Hipps, entertainment by the Green Valley Cloggers and music by the band, Grey Wolf,” said Deborah Reed, who has organized and planned the event for Canton.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. and the picnic and music will follow at noon. Call Reed at 776-2527 or Mayor Ray at 648-3535 for more information.

• Waynesville
Haywood County veterans, family members and friends are invited to a Memorial Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Waynesville.
The event is sponsored by the Haywood County Veterans Council and the Haywood County Veterans Services Office. Salem Wyatt, a Haywood County native and U.S. Army veteran, who served in Vietnam and Germany, will be the keynote speaker.
Wyatt’s military honors include the Silver and Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal with first OLC, the Air Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, and several others.
Additional participants include Father Lawrence LoMonaco of St. John’s Catholic Church; Rebecca Holt, the American Legion/VFW Honor Guard, the Tuscola High School JROTC, Pisgah High School; Voices in the Laurel; Mark Schuler, advisor of the Haywood County Veterans Council; and singer McKayla Reece. For more information, call 452-6634.

• Maggie Valley
A Memorial Day service will be held starting at 9 a.m. at the Maggie Valley Pavilion, next to town hall. Attendees may bring old and worn flags for a flag burning ceremony. Donuts and coffee will be served afterward. For information, call 926-7630.

Haywood County residents may want to check out the two Memorial Day documentaries running on UNC-TV, North Carolina’s public television network. Both feature Canton veterans, and the first will begin at 4 p.m. with “Thank you, Eddie Hart,” featuring Paul Willis.  Shot in the U.S., Holland, and Germany, “Thank you, Eddie Hart” is the story of a soldier from La Grange (Eddie Hart), who was killed in the waning days of the war and buried in Holland, where a Dutch girl made a lifelong promise to care for his grave.  Hart was a member of the 83rd Infantry Division, as was Willis who shares his memories of the war.
Then, at 9 p.m. Memorial Day, “Marching once More” will be broadcast on UNC-TV.  Shot in Belgium and Luxembourg, “Marching once More” follows more than 100 veterans — including Dick Alexander, also with the 83rd Infantry Division — as they return for the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, often called the largest, bloodiest battle of World War II.  More than a million men on both sides were involved in the Battle of the Bulge and 19,000 American soldiers lost their lives. For information, visit www.wetbirdproductions.com.
No matter which Memorial Day events you choose, take time to reflect on the great service and sacrifice of all the country’s military veterans.