Memorial Day activities will begin Monday, May 27 with the traditional laying of the wreaths. Beginning this year, the tradition will move from the courthouse to the Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County, at 9:30 a.m.

Members of VFW Post 6073 and American Legion Post 30 will lead the ceremony. The community is invited and encouraged to attend.

“The laying of the wreaths is to honor and to remember the Jackson County veterans that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in military service to our country,” said George Jones. “The Honor Wall at the park has been installed and lists the names of 232 service members from World War I through current military conflicts.”

In addition to the Honor Wall, Jones said the five service memorials and the POW/MIA memorial have now been installed.

At 10:45 a.m., the annual Memorial Day program will take place at Collins Intermediate School auditorium.

Guest speaker will be Wade Franks, a decorated Vietnam veteran who travels the country as an inspirational speaker and evangelist. Franks lives with his wife of 36 years, Gail, in Huntsville, and is the father of one daughter and grandfather to three grandchildren.

As a soldier in Vietnam for 18 months, Franks served primarily in the A Shau Valley with the 2nd 501st 101st Airborne Division infantry unit and later with the 47th Infantry Platoon Scout Dog (47th IPSD).

Franks has been awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in battle and three Bronze stars as well as the Air Medal and various other campaign medals.

While serving in combat in the A Shau Valley, Franks fought in the battle known as “Hamburger Hill.” This battle would later be known as one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.

Like many Vietnam veterans, Franks returned home to find a country in turmoil, and a life filled with stresses he could not cope with. For the next four years, he hitchhiked around the United States living in Salvation Army shelters, flop houses and even sleeping on the side of the road and under highway bridges.

Franks got his life turned around when he returned home in Huntsville and reunited with his high school girlfriend. Later in 1974, he and Gail were married and not long after they both gave their lives to Jesus Christ and began the journey that would lead to a long-awaited healing and ministry of sharing the gospel.

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