Memorial Day is a time for both revelry and remembrance. Many families enjoy greeting summer on this first three-day weekend of the season with such outdoor activities as picnics, ball games and festivals. Of course, its true purpose is to pay tribute to those who gave their lives on battlefields in defense of our country.
There will be many opportunities here in DeKalb County and nearby to honor the nation’s fallen heroes and to welcome summer. Here are some of them:
Stone Mountain Park introduces new laser show
Stone Mountain Park’s Memorial Day weekend celebration, which it touts as “Atlanta’s largest,” will include the introduction of an all-new laser show. May 28-30 the park will honor America’s troops and their families in a three-day celebration of American spirit on its Memorial Lawn.
In addition to the park’s other attractions, including the all-new Yogi Bear 4D Adventure, which will be offered for the first time on May 28, Memorial Day weekend will mark the debut of Stone Mountain Park’s Mountainvision Lasershow. “This unprecedented new show is taller than the Statue of Liberty and up to five times the size of an IMAX screen and promises to wow your family. State-of-the-art graphics and awe-inspiring effects create multi-dimensional magic on one of the world’s largest outdoor screens—Stone Mountain,” an announcement from the park states.
The park will salute America’s troops during the new laser show with a special fireworks finale. “Marvel as the skies above light up in a specially choreographed musical tribute honoring the brave men and women who protect our country,” the announcement states. The special fireworks display can be seen Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Weekend after the laser show.
Free passes are available to active and retired military personnel with valid ID along with other special offers, including discounts on food and merchandise throughout the weekend.
Elks Lodge to hold
Some may think that burning the United States flag is a gesture of disrespect—not always. The Atlanta-Northlake Elks Lodge 78 reminds the public each year that the Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration, states, “When a flag is so worn out that it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.”
An Elk Lodge ceremony May 28, starting at 10 a.m., is designed to demonstrate the proper method of disposing of worn American flags and provide area residents a way to dispose of their tattered or torn flags. The DeKalb Police Color Guard will participate in this year’s ceremony, presenting the colors during the ritual followed by a POW-MIA dedication. The ceremony will be at lodge headquarters at 1775 Montreal Road in Tucker.
The event will include a traditional holiday meal of a hot dog or hamburger plate, including chips and a drink, which is free to those wearing a military uniform or who show military ID. The meal is available to others at for a break-even price of $2.
This is the fifth year the Northlake Elks Lodge has provided a venue to help local residents properly dispose of their worn American flags.
“Many citizens know there are procedures for properly disposing of a torn or worn flag, but aren’t sure exactly what they are,” said Edward Carmine, a member of the Northlake Elks Lodge 78 who coordinates the annual event.
“Our ceremony creates a particularly dignified and solemn occasion for the retirement of unserviceable flags,” Carmine said. The ceremony is expected to last between 30-45 minutes.
The public is invited and encouraged to bring their worn American flags for disposal at the ceremony. Area residents also can drop worn flags off at the lodge, where a closed container will be provided in front of the building for drop offs when the lodge is closed. For more information, call (770) 908-0835.
DeKalb County Memorial Day commemoration event
County offices will be closed May 30, but the Maloof Building will open that morning for this year’s annual DeKalb County Memorial Day commemoration event. Vietnam veteran and aviator Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance, will be the guest speaker.
The theme of this year’s program, “Vietnam Veterans: A Tribute to Service and Sacrifice,” is part of the continued celebration of welcome home events for all Vietnam veterans, who historically were not well received upon their return home, according to an announcement from the county.
“The United States Senate (Senate Bill 74) recently declared that March 30, 2011, be designated as ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,’” the county announcement states. “It marks the 38th anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. combat and combat-support units from Vietnam. Senator Johnny Isakson was a co-sponsor of the bill. The significance of the date was March 30, 1973, when all U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam. Upon these soldiers return, there were no marches or speeches as there had been at the end of each of the World Wars and no ticker-tape parades honoring these Veterans. America’s Vietnam Veterans returned home to silence and unfair criticism having served their country during a divisive war.”
The event will be at the Manuel Maloof Auditorium at 1300 Commerce Drive at 11 a.m. in downtown Decatur. The list of those invited to participate in the program includes the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Congressman Hank Johnson, Major General James Donald (ret.) and Chaplain Tommy Thompson, LTC (ret.).
Traveling Memorial Vietnam Wall comes to Griffin
Another opportunity to honor those who fought and died in Vietnam requires driving a short distance to the south. Helping to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall, a three-quarter-scale traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be open for public viewing May 27-30 at Wiomia Tyus Olympic Park, 1301 Cowan Road in Griffin. Viewing is free and open to the public 24 hours a day.
The replica is 8 feet high and 240 feet long. Its black reflective surface is inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died or are missing in Vietnam. Paper and pencils will be provided so visitors can make rubbings of names etched on the wall.
An opening ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, May 27. Multiple groups, including branches of service as well as veterans and government organizations, will hold several ceremonies throughout the Memorial Day weekend. A closing ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. Monday, May 30, as part of the annual local VFW Memorial Day service.
Decatur Arts Festival returns
Among the Memorial Day events many families look forward to is the popular Decatur Arts Festival.
More than 160 artists from around the nation will be selling paintings, jewelry and more. There also will be cutting-edge dance; storytellers and improvisational comedy; a parade and balloon art for children at the 23rd annual Decatur Arts Festival Memorial Day weekend, May 28-29.
This interactive, inclusive arts extravaganza, presented by the Decatur Arts Alliance, includes art and artists from all disciplines and features hands-on participatory art as well as demonstrating and performing arts at venues throughout Decatur. All events are free.
Among the events at the Decatur Arts Festival are:
ArtWalk – Held on Friday, May 27, 5-10 p.m., the Decatur ArtWalk gives local businesses and galleries an opportunity to get involved. Attendees visit the local businesses that have invited an artist or have displayed a collection of art. Many offer complimentary food and beverages. Music will be playing from the Community Bandstand on the Square.
Artists Market – Saturday, May 28, 10am-6pm, Sunday, May 29, 11a.m. -6 p.m. – Artists set up tents to display and sell their works on the Square in downtown Decatur. This highly competitive, juried show offers talent from all over the nation.
Performing Arts Stage – Saturday, May 28, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday, May 29, noon-5 p.m. There will be continuous performing arts every hour from the community bandstand on the Square. This year’s line-up includes performances by ConunDrums, Cowboy Envy, Nicole Chillemi Band, Mieka Pauley, Von Grey, 7 Day Fool, Sewhee Village Percussion, Doria Roberts, The Bonaventure Quartet, Davin McCoy and The Coming Attractions and ending the weekend with Delta Moon.
Fine Arts Exhibition – The annual juried Fine Arts Exhibition will open on May 24 through June 5. The exhibition features works from more than 60 artists and is held at Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery within walking distance from the weekend festival.
Kids and Teen’s Arts Festival – Saturday, May 28, 9:45 a.m. – 2 p.m. There will be activities for toddlers, elementary-aged kids and teens with lots of hands-on art projects, performers, balloon artists and a rock climbing wall. Located on the lawn of Decatur First Baptist Church, the Kids and Teen’s Festival kicks off with the Children’s Parade led by the city fire department.
Theater and Literary Arts Festival – through May 29 – It is a celebration of theater and literary arts that includes short plays, improvisational comedy, poetry, storytelling, author readings and more. Events are held throughout the week in conjunction with the Georgia Center for the Book. The Theater and Literary Arts Tent on the Old Courthouse lawn will be open all day Saturday and Sunday with a full line-up of performers for both adults and children. Family events are on Sunday. New this year is the Decatur LOL stage located on Clairemont Avenue, which will feature local comedians and open mic opportunities for the public.
The “Speak…Easy!” – Friday, May 27, 7-9 p.m. – This evening of storytelling and music for the soul and spirit, at the Old Courthouse on the Square, kicks off the theater and literary arts festival for the weekend.
New Dance Festival – The Beacon Dance Company will present three shows at the Beacon Hill Arts Center, 410 West Trinity Place on May 27 and May 28 at 8 p.m. These performances feature the newest works by local and national choreographers. “With a roster of cutting-edge artists, Breaking New Ground promises a rich evening of thought- provoking entertainment and excitement,” the festival announcement states. A reception will follow each performance. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged.
For more information and a program guide, visit www.decaturartsfestival.com or call (404) 371-9583.