Memorial Day • May 28, 2007 in Marion, VA

Nancy Lawson and Helen Vernon with the AWON / Gold Star Wreath

Three members, spouses, children and grandchildren were proud to represent AWON in Marion, Virginia at Memorial Day Events.  Calvin Rorrer and his wife, Freeda, from Floyd VA, joined Helen Vernon, her husband Glen, Helen's sister Nancy and her husband, Sherman Lawson, for dinner on Sunday evening. 

Nancy and Helen were proud that their father's five surviving siblings were all able to participate in the parade as Gold Star family members.  They are: twin brother Delmar Heath and wife, Gaye; Ernest Heath and wife Dixie; Anna James Anderson; Hazel Heath; and Dorothy Sullivan.  There were also another eleven family members from the community who were part of the parade, for a total of twenty Gold Star family members.  All  rode on the Gold Star Float and a smaller float, decorated with AWON signs, was manned by Helen's thirteen children and grandchildren representing the second and third generation of descendents from those men who were lost in WWII.

Many faces were reverent and there were tears and thank-yous from the crowd.  The participants felt an overwhelming feeling of pride as the group rode through the streets.  There was an aura of respect and, at several points, the floats were greeted with applause and salutes .

After the parade, the entire town gathered at the local VFW where a ceremony of remembrance was held at the Memorial Wall.  Patriotic songs were performed and a physician from Kingsport TN, Dr. Ron Harris, Jr.  who was part of  Black Hawk Down, gave an emotional speech.  It was concluded by his twelve year old son reading a very moving letter from an Iraqi war orphan.


Helen Vernon, Freeda Rorrer, Calvin Rorrer and Nancy Lawson with the AWON Banner.


Strolling among the flags in downtown Marion, VA:  Sherman and Nancy Lawson,
Helen Vernon, and Calvin and Freeda Rorrer.


The Gold Star Float in the Parade in honor of Gold Star Family Members.


The AWON float, with Helen Vernon's children and grandchildren, including:
Karen and Charles-Vernon Young with son Adam; Kevin Vernon with son Ian;
Keith Vernon with daughter Laura; M/Sgt Kelly Vernon with his wife
Jo-Ann and children Hailey, Hannah, Henry and Hayden Vernon.

Thanks to Glen Vernon for the photos and to Helen Vernon for the text!