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Memorial Day tribute at Post 77
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Debbie and John Goodrich, of Conyers, donate blood at the American Legion blood drive. Despite John’s aversion to needles – “If anyone’s going to take a dirt nap, it’s me,” he joked – the couple donates regularly and used to donate with pherisis, or a method that collects platelets and returns the liquid to the body. - photo by Michelle Kim

The American Legion Post 77 was standing room only as local veterans and residents paused to pay tribute to the fallen service men and women. Plenty of candidates and elected officials also stopped by, including Sheriff Jeff Wigington, Commission Chair Richard Oden, Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, Congressman Hank Johnson, Tax Commssioner Dan Ray, Magistrate Judge Rudy Horne, candidate for Probate Court judge Caycie Dix, candidates for Superior Court Judge Robbie Mumford and Gary Washington, candidate for Post I Commission seat Sam Smiley.

Johnson presented a Blue Star flag to Dawn Daffin and Nekita Jacobs for their status as mothers of active duty military men and women serving in harm's way. Daffin, the Post 77 Chaplain, has a son Army PFC Terry Thomas, 20, serving in Kuwait. Jacobs’ 19-year-old twin son and daughter, Jia Harris and Jacolby Harris, are both Marines and Heritage graduates.

Following a 21-gun salute by the Post 77 Honor Guard and laying of the wreath at the flag by Auxiliary President Valerie Debro, guest speaker Pete Mecca highlighted the uptick in local projects and efforts for veterans, including the Walk of Heroes Veterans Memorial and Honor Flight Conyers, and called for more military history to be taught at schools.

The program was led by Post 77 Commander Zeste Debro with remarks from Judge Advocate Bobby Davis and Adjutant Jim Crutchfield. The National Anthem and "God Bless America" were sung by Auxiliary member Barbara Ramsdell. Invocation was led by Chaplain Dawn Daffin. The fellowship lunch afterwards was prepared by Post 77 Auxiliary members.

The Red Cross also held a blood drive at the Post 77 hall.