Memorial March to honor veterans

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

In what has become a Stockbridge Memorial Day tradition, local residents are invited to come out and show their support for those who have given their lives for their country.

The seventh annual Memorial March of Stockbridge is scheduled for Monday, May 29 at 9 a.m., starting at the Merle Manders Conference Center at 111 Davis Road. The one-mile walk will take participants from the Center to the Memorial Park and Cemetery, at 106 Jennings Way, providing the community with a chance to interact with family members of military veterans buried in the cemetery.

The Stockbridge High School NJROTC will place American flags on the graves of 17 soldiers buried there, as well as those buried at six other cemeteries in the city.

More than 500 people attended last year’s Memorial March. One of them was Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Ford, who is among the military veterans slated to be part of this year’s Memorial March. Ford’s military service built on that of his father, who served in World War II and in Korea.

Ford entered the Army in 1980 and served as a logistics officer, retiring as a colonel after 30 years of service. He said he looks forward to being in the Memorial March every year and that it is an important occasion for the city at this time in the nation’s history.

“The event actually brings, to the public eye, people who have sacrificed for our country, and we wanted to be able to recognize the service people,” said Ford. “It allows us to properly honor the service members who have sacrificed for the country, and to reflect on what it means to be an American.”

Simeon Nunnally of Stockbridge served in the Army from 2007-2012 and was attached to the 501st military police company out of Wiesbaden, Germany. When his service was done, Nunnally held the rank of Specialist Promotable.

He was approached by Mayor Pro Tem Ford last year about taking part in this year’s Memorial March.

“It was a complete honor,” explained Nunnally. “Veteran events are extremely important to me because I am a veteran myself. The planning committee is made up of veterans who put in 15-20 years of service each, and here I am only having served five years in the United States Army. Now I am part of a team that puts together huge events in the City of Stockbridge that are honoring our veterans and active duty personnel. It’s an honor to be a part of the committee.”

Nunnally added that he hopes residents enjoy events in the city that are dedicated to veterans. He said he wants more people to be aware of the veterans who live in Stockbridge and come to the march to celebrate them as well.

“We just want to put politics to the side and all the negative media attention that we’re currently seeing, and just enjoy a day with veterans in the community,” said Nunnally.

Former Stockbridge City Councilman Alphonso Thomas is part of the planning committee for the march. He said organizers of the march have worked hard in recent weeks to get the word out to local media, fraternities and sororities. Thomas said he expects a great turnout for the event, partially because many area residents feel strongly about issues related to military veterans.

“I think the larger issue is citizens being able to pay homage to veterans that paid the ultimate cost with their lives for our country,” said Thomas. “We want to recognize all veterans that serve.”

For more information, e-mail Stockbridge Events Coordinator Brian Bradley at memorial or call 770-389-5982 ext. 180.