Monroe, Georgia, May 25, 2015, By SFC Ron Cosgrove – Thousands of spectators, old and young alike, lined both sides of Historic Green Street in Gainesville on Monday, Memorial Day, cheering and waving flags. Although rain had been forecasted, patches of blue sky peered through clouds while temperatures remained in the 60s for the 13th annual Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion’s Paul E. Bolding Post 7 in Gainesville. The Georgia State Defense Force’s 4th Battalion assisted greatly in the event appearing hours before the 10:00 a.m. start of the parade. 13 soldiers helped in traffic and crowd control as well as helping orchestrate the line up and initiation of scores and scores of entries into the parade route which traveled south on Green Street to Jesse Jewell Parkway and onto Spring Street in downtown Gainesville. Soldiers aided a slew of high school bands, vintage tractors, American Revolution re-enactors, and the ever-welcomed Shriner’s funny cars. World War II veterans drew the most praise, particularly when 92 year old Cecil Boswell walked the entire parade route in the uniform he wore back when he was discharged from the U.S. Army. Also from World War II, brothers John Smallwood, 91, Howell Smallwood, 89, and Horace Smallwood, 87 drew thunderous applause as they waved small flags and threw candy to the crowds. Others that participated in the nearly hour and a half parade included the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 772, the Marine Corp League and a large contingent of public safety officers and firefighters along with a large compliment of firefighting, police and historic military vehicles.
While the environment was festive, Memorial Day is a somber occasion for the 4th battalion volunteers, many of which are veterans themselves, as they felt honored to wear a uniform of a military service recognized on this day for the remembered dead and fallen. Many of the soldiers simply felt that although they were present to perform a service they were there primarily to honor the veterans that have fallen – one of the greatest tributes that could be paid.