(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
The true meaning of Memorial Day was apparent at the 2007 ceremony held at Garden Point Cemetery at 11 a.m. Monday, May 28. Residents and former residents of the area gathered to give tribute to family members and friends who died serving their country, honor all of the veterans buried at Garden Point, remember their loved ones, and the unveiling of a monument placed in memory of Joseph Allen Sisco, hometown World War II hero.
Pre-program music was provided by Brother Huey and Mrs. Meherg prior to the raising of the flag by Major John Northcutt and the Rivercrest School ROTC. Etowah Mayor Charles "Bo" McCollum, welcomed everyone.
"We have a lot to be thankful for," McCollum said. "We will have a special dedication to a hometown boy who lost his life in World War II. His sister, Clara Lee Hill, came to us a while back about placing a monument in honor of her brother."
McCollum expressed his appreciation to the family for the beautiful monument. He also recognized the work of Shirley Mathey, Garden Point Cemetery historian, and the cemetery board for the work they do. He also thanked Bob Wilmoth and his family for the generous donation of additional land for the cemetery. An open book monument was placed in the cemetery in honor of the Wilmoth Addition.
Brother Meherg offered the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Kendal Stovall, veteran, U.S. Army, Iraq.
The National Anthem was led by David Hall, Veteran of the U.S. Navy and Etowah Baptist Church song leader.
Bob Wilmoth, veteran of U.S. Army World War II, and Robert Johnson, veteran of the U.S. Army, Vietnam, presented the laying of the wreath in Remembrance of Veterans.
The Memorial Day Message was presented by Ron Langston, veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Lake City First Baptist Church pastor, and former Etowah resident.
Langston said it was good to be back home.
"I grew up in Three Way and my dad was H.O. Langston," he said. "Today, we are here to honor the men and women who served and the liberty and freedom of our nation. I was privileged to travel to other countries while serving in the Air Force and as a missionary. I have lived in other countries under dictatorship. I believe God has blessed America."
Langston recalled some of his childhood memories from growing up in the area.
The Etowah Police Department and volunteer police officers presented a 21 gun salute.
Bob Mathey and Greg Smith, Etowah Baptist Church pastor, presented special music
Mrs. Hill of Michigan, spoke briefly about the monument placed in memory of her brother.
"How good it feels to be home," Mrs. Hill said. "If Joe could be here, he would say the monument (an eight foot granite bench) is practical, and I think he would also say it feels so good to be home. We were raised on the farm and he was practical."
Mrs. Hill and her son, Dr. Samuel Hill, Jr., laid a special wreath with a picture of Joe at the monument placed in his honor.
Brownie and Daisy Sisco and their children, Earl, Joe, Clara Lee, Sarah Sue, Joe, Anna, and Mary Lou, lived in Etowah from 1920 until 1952. They were farmers. Brownie Sisco was a World War I veteran and named his two sons for his buddies, Earl and Joe, who helped him survive mustard gas in the trenches of the Aragon Forest in France. The family moved away but always treasured their Etowah roots.
Their sons, Earl and Joe Sisco, marched away to help with the World War II effort. Earl Sisco volunteered for the Navy and his brother Joe Sisco the Air Corp. They survived the war.
Joe went back into the Air Force and died, along with 16 others, in a fiery B29 crash in North Dakota on Aug. 20, 1948.
"Joe loved football and airplanes," his sister said.
He graduated from Keiser High School where he played football and was a member of the marching band.
The monument honoring a Hometown Hero, is inscribed "In loving memory of Joseph Allen Sisco, Technical Sergeant, AF #14121721. Nov. 11, 1922 -- Aug. 28, 1948."
He flew 35 missions in Europe during World War II with the 8th Air Force. The Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Oak Leaf Cluster, Medal of Valor, Silver Star, three Bronze Stars with ribbons and medals from European, African, and Middle Eastern Campaigns are among the many decorations Sgt. Sisco received for his service.
Mrs. Hill said her brother had been shot down twice during the war.
"He told me once he thought all the time about Etowah, his family and his home," she said. "He had to bail out of a plane over the south of France in 1944. He said he knew he had to pull the cord but surprisingly he said he was not afraid."
She said a couple rescued him, tended to his wounds and kept him hidden for 28 days.
"The last thing he said to me was, 'I'll see you when the watermelons are ripe.' We brought him home on Aug. 27, 1948, and the watermelons were ripe, but they were not sweet."
An added honor to the Garden Point Cemetery was the display of the special plaque declaring Garden Point on the National Historical Cemetery register.
"It took a long time and a lot of work, but we are happy to have Garden Point placed on the National Historical register," Mayor McCollum said. "Shirley Mathey and others helped make the designation possible."
Mathey now lives in Horseshoe Bend but still calls the Etowah area home. She has served as historian for Garden Point Cemetery since 1995. She started working on the project and said it became her passion. She and members of the cemetery board are making every effort to have every person buried at Garden Point in the data base. She started two years ago adding obituaries and has added over 1,100 obituaries.
"We thought we had 89 veterans buried at Garden Point, but now through research we have discovered we have 133 veterans buried here," she said. "We are still looking for obituaries and family members who can help us record the gravesites we do not have on record. For more information on Garden Point Cemetery log on to: home.centurytel.net/gardenpointcemetery. To contact Mathey with any information e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.