• 73°

Memorial Day events to honor veterans

Polk County residents will have a chance to honor the county&squo;s veterans and current soldiers at three special events on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day programs will be held at 11 a.m. at both the Polk County Memorial Gardens cemetery and the Saluda Veteran&squo;s Memorial Park.

Retired colonel Otis Livingston will be the speaker for the ceremony in Columbus. Residents are invited to come to the cemetery on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to place flags on all veteran&squo;s graves. Anyone who knows of a veteran&squo;s grave that is not marked is asked to call 859-5286 or 894-3197.

In Saluda, Raymond Byrd is scheduled to speak at the ceremony on Monday, and Charlotte Brady will make a presentation (see page 7 for the full program schedule).

Later in the day on Monday, the first &dquo;Memorial Day Singing for the Solders&dquo; will be held at Veteran&squo;s Memorial Park in Columbus.

The event follows a &dquo;Singing For The Solders&dquo; benefit held in January at Sunny View School. The approximately 200 people who attended that singing program filled two pick-up trucks with items to send to soldiers in Iraq.

Organizers for the Memorial Day gospel singing hope to gather more items for the soldiers. They say they are looking for the following: snacks that won&squo;t melt, DVDs, CDs, toiletry items, batteries of all sizes, socks, bug spray, lotions, sanitizers and more. Organizers say the items will be shipped to Iraq within a few days after the event through chaplains who are stationed in Iraq. Organizer Deb Williamson says 1,000 special Bibles developed by Shane Jackson, who trains chaplains, also will be sent to the soldiers.

Jackson will lead the invocation on Monday before the singing begins around 6 p.m. Shania Camp of the Jason Camp Family group will sing the national anthem, and a special tribute to veterans will be held before the gospel groups take the stage. The singing is expected to last from 6 to 9 p.m.

The event will also raise funds through the sale of food and drinks and an auction to help cover the cost of postage and shipping. Hot dogs, roasted corn, desserts, nachos and drinks will be available., beginning at 5 p.m.&bsp; Items for the silent auction will be on display from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Columbus Fire Department and the winners will be announced at 8 p.m.

The music includes gospel singer songwriter Greg Day, who wrote &dquo;The Midnight Cry,&dquo; one of the most well known songs in southern gospel music. The Solders of the Cross, a local bluegrass gospel group from Sunny View, and the Green River Boys from Saluda will also perform.

Williamson says many churches and businesses have offered support for the event, and she hopes many people will turn out to pay tribute to veterans and support the current soldiers.

Anyone who is unable to attend the event but would like to help the soldiers can drop off items or financial contributions at the Polk County Chapter of the American Red Cross or at WJFJ Radio on Court Street in Columbus.

In the event of rain, the Memorial Day singing will be held at the Red Cross building on Ward Street in Columbus.