Several Memorial Day events are planned in the Wayne County area to recognize and honor war heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend American freedoms.
Events begin Saturday with volunteers setting small American flags at thousands of veterans graves at six cemeteries. The American Legion Wayne Post 11, at 2973 U.S. 117 South, will host an 8a.m. biscuit and coffee breakfast, which will be followed by a short ceremony, for interested volunteers and the general public.
Everyone will participate in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem. Directions will also be given on how to correctly place flags at the gravesite, during the formal flag-in ceremony.
Volunteers will then head out to area cemeteries to help place flags on veterans graves at the Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Wayne Memorial Park, Wayne Memorial Park West and the Evergreen, Willow Dale and Elmwood cemeteries.
"We're putting out close to 6,000," said Bill Graham, chief executive officer of the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition.
The American flags will remain at gravesites for more than a week before being removed, Graham said.
The Legion will also participate in the Goldsboro Elks' bike rally to the North Carolina State Veterans Home, in Kinston, where they will visit veterans at the home. The Legion will also participate in the Wings of Wayne Military Appreciation Festival in downtown Goldsboro.
The two-day festival, featuring live music, crafts, vendors, children's activities and a chicken wing cookoff, will take place Saturday from 1 to 8p.m. and Sunday from 8a.m. to noon, in the lot at 207 S. Center St.
On Sunday, there will also be a Post Everlasting Ceremony at 2p.m. at the American Legion Post for the families of former legionnaires.
"It's for any legionnaire that has passed away in the last year," Graham said. "We have about 14 legionnaires that have passed in the last year. We will be remembering those that have passed away since last Memorial Day."
The ceremony is to remember those who have transitioned from the American Legion Post in Wayne County to their everlasting post, Graham said.
The largest event in Wayne County is the annual Memorial Day Service that will be held at 11a.m. in the Moffatt Auditorium at Wayne Community College, on Wayne Memorial Drive.
"It's well-received in Wayne County," Graham said. "It's the official Wayne County ceremony."
Jim Brewer, the president of the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition, will serve as master of ceremonies, and the coalition plans to have a guest speaker, most likely from the military.
Christina Kazakavage, Gold Star mother, will represent all fallen warriors, including her son, Adam Ginett, who was killed in action near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Jan. 19, 2010.
Encore, a local dance company, will provide entertainment, including the national anthem. All branches of the military will be recognized, and a special video will show pictures of all of Wayne County's heroes killed or missing in war, Graham said.
The guest speaker and Gold Star wife will participate in the laying of the wreath ceremony, and the event will conclude with the ringing of the bell and a bugler performing taps.
Events will continue Monday afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Park, at 239 E. Walnut St., at 2:45p.m. A guest speaker and the formal laying of the wreath ceremony will take place during the short ceremony, which will conclude to the sound of taps, just before 3p.m. Everyone will then observe the national moment of silence at 3p.m.
The Mount Olive community will also observe Memorial Day with a 2p.m. service on Sunday at the Maplewood Cemetery.
The variety of events offers area residents the chance to remember and honor those who have fallen in battle in defense of American freedoms.
"It's a memorial for all of our brothers and sisters who have been killed or missing in war, and it's to keep our memories of them alive," Graham said.
"They gave their lives for our freedoms that we have today, and we don't ever want to forget them."