Standing at a podium alongside the eternal flame that burns continuously at the Sugar Hill Veterans Memorial, Kathryn Baskin read aloud 27 names. 

Those names are the latest to be carved into bricks and placed among the pavers that make up the walkway at the city’s Veterans Memorial Plaza, a place dedicated to remembering and honoring service men and women both deceased and alive. 

As the Sugar Hill community gathered at the plaza on Memorial Day 2023, observed on Monday, May 29, city officials and community leaders spoke, honoring the memories of those who have died in military service. Baskin, the chair of the Sugar Hill Historic Preservation Society, spoke of community and shared history. 

“Rituals, traditions and celebrations around remembrance, whether for fallen soldiers or a beloved family member, help define our communities and connect us to a shared history,” she said. “Even as Memorial Day connects us with our past, it also reinforces our connections to the present. It gives us a reason to bond with our neighbors, families and friends, the communities that our soldiers fought so bravely to preserve.” 

In his remarks during the ceremony, Sugar Hill City Council member Mason Roszel called Memorial Day a day of “remembrance, gratitude and hope.

“It’s great to see the community come together for a day like this,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes to what our community values.” 

Roszel, a veteran himself, invited those gathered to reflect on freedom. 

“Take the opportunity at some point today to reflect and ask yourself what specific freedom is most precious to you and what legacy of freedom do you want to impart on the next generation,” Roszel said. 

Sugar Hill Mayor Pro Tem Marc Cohen spoke of remembrance during Monday’s ceremony. 

“As we’ve heard throughout the ages and in time of crisis, we as Americans do not forget what happened,” Cohen said. “Whether it was an hour ago, a day, a year or even multiple centuries, we remember.

“Just ask the families of the more than 1.3 million members of the military who’ve lost their lives in battle or military-related activities since the Revolutionary War,” Cohen continued. “We’ll always remember and honor these fallen heroes regardless of how much time has passed.” 

During the Memorial Day ceremony, Stephanie Isaacs, the city’s cemeterian, announced the dedication of a military headstone to be placed at the gravesite of a post-Korean War veteran laid to rest in Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery. Grover Charles Bailey Sr. served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959. He was interred in the city cemetery in October 2022. Members of his family were in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.   

“We’re here today for those warriors who have given all that they could give so others, like all of us assembled here, can enjoy freedom,” Cohen said during his remarks. “We continue to mourn their loss, but most of all, we celebrate their lives.”

FEATURED PHOTO: Wreaths stand at the Sugar Hill Veterans Memorial Plaza on May 29, 2023, in remembrance of fallen service men and women. The city held its annual Memorial Day ceremony. Photo courtesy of the city of Sugar Hill. 

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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