People attending the American Legion Post 21 Memorial Day observance head for cover just as the event was about to begin when rain from outer bands of Tropical Depression Beryl passed through the Summerville, S.C., area Monday, May 28, 2012. Organizers quickly elected to cancel the observance due to the inclement weather.
ATLANTA (AP) -- All around Georgia, flags were lowered and memorial services over the three-day holiday weekend to honor those who have served in the military.
In Savannah, about 100 people braved soggy weather at a plot reserved for veterans at Bonaventure Cemetery, where small American flags were placed at every gravestone. Jim Grismer, commander of American Legion Post 135 in Savannah, said he got "soaked to the skin" while getting ready for the outdoor ceremony.
Grismer had to speak up for aging ears during the group's observance. With rain bands continuing to blow in from the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl, it was too wet to risk setting up a microphone and speakers.
Still, the veterans who organize the ceremony refused to move it indoors.
"There were brave men standing on the decks of ships in storms with driving rain in the Pacific, and we had men in muddy foxholes," Grismer said. "It wouldn't hurt for us to be here in the rain to honor them."
Byron Stephens, a 76-year-old Army veteran from Savannah, and his wife, Marilyn, didn't let the rain stop them from attending.
"I don't think there was any question," Stephens said. "Rain always goes away."
Marilyn Stephens said "neither rain nor sleet nor snow" would have stopped them.
"It didn't stop people from fighting in inclement weather," she said. "This is what Memorial Day is all about."
The rains paused aside from a few sprinkles during the actual service. Still, most attendees held umbrellas in their laps just in case.
Commanders of Army units at nearby Fort Stewart had a busy Memorial Day planned, traveling to events across southeast Georgia. The fort is the largest Army post east of the Mississippi River and home to the 3rd Infantry Division, which has 22,000 soldiers. The division served four tours in Iraq. Some of its units are now serving in Afghanistan.
One of the largest metro Atlanta events was the 15th annual Roswell Remembers Memorial Day Celebration, which began with the presentation of colors and the national anthem.
WSB-TV reports that the parents of 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Gary Lee Nelson III presented the laying of the wreath at the Faces of War monument in the Memorial Garden during the Roswell event. Nelson suffered injuries while serving in Iraq and died April 3.
"It's a big price to pay. The price of freedom is not free," Gary Nelson II said.
Retired U.S. Army Capt. Frank Payne reminded the crowd about the meaning of Memorial Day.
"It's not a vacation. It's a day to respect those who served our country," he said.
In north Georgia, WAGA-TV reports that people came out Monday along the parade route for the Gainesville Memorial Day celebration to honor a local veteran, Lance Cpl. Sean Adams. He stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan in February and lost both legs and two fingers. He's has been recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center and was awarded the Purple Heart by President Barack Obama.
"Well, it's good to see the town honoring veterans like myself. Looks like a good turnout," Adams said.
His injuries served as a reminder of the sacrifices troops make for some watching the parade.
"It gives us a lot of hope that somebody is willing to put themselves out there day after day, put themselves in harm's way," said Jonathan Freeman. "He (Adams) gave pretty much a lot of his life so that the rest of us and enjoy a day like today. So this is what we want to try and remember while we are out here."
During a nearly hour-long service at Andersonville National Cemetery Sunday, The Telegraph newspaper reports that Superintendent Brad Bennett said Memorial Day provides a chance to remember everyone who has served in the military and their families, from 1776 to today.
Master Sgt. Jennifer L. Nesbitt, the honor guard program manager for the 78th Air Base Wing at Robins Air Force Base, was the keynote speaker. She told a story about seeing two helicopters with wounded soldiers land at a base in Afghanistan when she served there in 2009.
"My heart sunk into my chest," she said, recalling her feelings at the time. "What horrible atrocities did they see? Will they survive? Does anyone back home know about their sacrifices?"
She felt privileged to be a part of a ceremony honoring soldiers like those, she said.
"It's a true honor to be able to speak to these individuals and bring them the message about what the family endures when they lose a loved one," she said.