American Legion’s Memorial Day ceremony honors fallen veterans

MADISON – American Legion, Post 229 conducted its annual Memorial Day ceremony in an abbreviated format at Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park.

“The small ceremony … honored our fallen veterans. While most cities and veteran’s organizations chose to do their ceremonies virtually or cancel them, Post 229 thought it was important to conduct the ceremony but with limited attendance,” Auxiliary Unit President Jean Downs said.

“The ceremony was attended by members of American Legion, Unit 229 Auxiliary, Girl Scouts from the post’s sponsored troop and their family members,” Downs said.

The ceremony opened with Audio Radiance Quartet’s rendition of “The National Anthem” and patriotic music. Post Chaplain Andy Caudle gave the invocation. Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy welcomed the audience.

Post 229 Honor Guard presented the Raising of Colors. Auxiliary Unit 229 member Terry Frakes read the poem “In Flanders Field,” which explains the significance of the poppy in instilling hope after World War I.

The Memorial Day wreath was laid at the park’s monument by Gold Star Family Jim and Kristie Harris. The wreath was laid in the honor of their son, SPC Christopher Bryant Spears.

Post 229 Adjutant Stacey Harring read the biography of SPC Spears. Post members Tommy Whitten and Jean Downs escorted the Harris family to the park’s monument.

Post 229 Honor Guard member Larry Frakes as bugler and Honor Guard Commander Robert Kirby presented “Taps.”

To close the ceremony, Vannoy gave final remarks. Chaplain Caudle offered the closing prayer, followed by Audio Radiance Quartet singing, “God Bless America.”

The distinguished military career of SPC Christopher Bryant Spears, age 24, ended in the line of duty on Feb. 1, 2014. Christopher was a member of the 115th Signal Battalion, Co. B.

Spears completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. He then went to Fort Gordon for AlT 25S (Satellite Communications operator). Within two weeks, Spears was deployed to Operation Freedom in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan with the 115th Signal Battalion.

Spears volunteered for another tour in Afghanistan with the 101st Signal Battalion out of New York. Spears was killed, once returning and reporting to his home duty station on Feb. 1, 2014.

During his time of service, Spears earned Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Army Good Conduct, Army Reserve ACH Medal (2nd Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Afghanistan Expeditionary Medal (2nd Award).

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