DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) —Memorial Day is an added day on the holiday calendar, giving people a kickstart to summer, but it was created as a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military.
“We need to take a couple of moments and remember why we have this freedom,” Sunset Memorial Park Owner, Robert Byrd said. “Every year for the past 17 years we have wanted to give the community the opportunity to remember people.”
Sunset Memorial Park welcomed hundreds from across the Wiregrass to celebrate this special day.
The speaker for the ceremony was a professional comedian and purple heart recipient Thom Tran, who gave people a reason to smile on this day of remembrance.
“My goal is to be able to take that pain and hurt away for just a few minutes and even on a day like today this, where we want to remember,” Wounded Retired Combat Veteran and Stand-Up Comedian, Thom Tran said. “I find the best way to do that is to live the life that they can’t.”
Tran is a retired Army staff sergeant, paratrooper, and combat veteran.
He created a group with some fellow combat veterans called The GIs of Comedy, which provides fellow soldiers with an opportunity to laugh.
“I know exactly how everyone is feeling because I feel it,” Tran said. “I’ve lost soldiers. I’ve been that sergeant that had to call a family.”
After the laughter subsided was a moment of silence, followed by the sound of cannon volleys. The ceremony ended with each attendee taking a flower and laying it on a veteran’s grave.
This was the 17th annual Wiregrass Memorial Day Ceremony at Sunset Memorial Park and organizers say they expect next year to be even bigger and better.