The reflective strains of "Taps" filled the air Monday during ceremonies in Lauderdale and Colbert counties that honored those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The ceremony at Veterans Park included the dedication of the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Veterans Memorial.

"The days of the dedication of this particular memorial are long in coming," said Robert Steen, chairman of the Florence Historical Board. "This memorial stands as a symbol of the patriotism of the fallen heroes of Lauderdale County."

Veterans Park was developed as Point Park in the late 1960s, Steen said. The Veterans Memorial was built in 1975 and the park was renamed Veterans Park in 1983.

The memorial is the location of five markers that were constructed in 2005. They contain the names of Lauderdale County residents who were killed in action.

It includes 46 members of the military who died in World War I, 131 in World War II, 15 in the Korean War and 33 in the Vietnam War.

Steen said in addition to those 225, four Lauderdale County residents have died in the global war on terrorism.

The ceremonies in both counties saw attendances that numbered into the hundreds on a sweltering hot day.

Standing in front of the Colbert County Courthouse, American Legion Post 31 Commander Charlie Grimmett pointed out this year is the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, as well as the Colbert County post.

"This is the best group of guys and women you ever want to be around," Grimmett said. "The crowd you see today shows the appreciation this community has for this post."

Both ceremonies included rifle salutes to fallen veterans and the playing of "Taps." The Lauderdale County event included the release of 21 snow white doves.

Johnny Watson, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam War, talked to the crowd in Colbert County about the plight many veterans face due to the emotional pain that war inflicts on them.

"The truth is, it messes with your spirit and gets deep in your soul to the point that you lose concentration," Watson said.

He spoke about the physical and emotional pain that Jesus endured when he gave his life for us. Watson told the veterans in attendance that Jesus can relate to their pain.

"At those times, it's good to know that Jesus knows that pain," he said.

Watson said many veterans feel trapped in the "Friday of their lives," using that term to connect their pain to the pain Jesus endured on Good Friday.

"There is a lesson to be learned from all this: There is no pain that his purpose can't redeem," he said.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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