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Honoring our fallen heroes

Monday, May 29, 2023–6:00 p.m.

-Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune-

This story is possible because of a news-sharing agreement with the Rome News-Tribune. More information can be found at

Rome Exchange Club President John Fortune salutes during a ceremony Monday. (Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune)

“The fallen have paid the ultimate sacrifice, but their families continue to pay every day.” 

That quote, by a speaker during Memorial Day services Monday, emphasized the importance of remembering what our veterans have given up and who they’ve left behind to grieve for them.

The Exchange Club of Rome conducted its Memorial Day ceremony at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, with Exchange Club President John Fortune leading the ceremonies.

The guest speaker was First Sgt. Bobbi Townsend, a former guard at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a member of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which is the oldest active regiment in the army.

American Legion Post 5 Commander Sgt. Rodney Dillard speaks during a ceremony Monday. (Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune)

Fortune reminded the assembled of the reason for Memorial Day and thanked everyone for postponing their celebrations.

“Today is not about being gloomy, it’s about being somber,” Fortune said. “And I assure you the young soldiers I led in Iraq definitely wanted everyone to have a barbecue and a beer on Memorial Day.”

American Legion Post 5 conducted the presentation of the colors and fired a volley, and the Cherokee Artillery fired their cannons in honor as well.

In Shannon, the Watters District Council for Historic Preservation held its 28th annual Memorial Day observance across from the Shannon Recreation Center at 40 Minshew Road.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 30 salute during a Memorial Day observance in Shannon. (Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune)

The Rev. Louis Byars of Shannon Baptist Church emceed the event, attendees were welcomed by Max McAdams and the invocation was led by Sgt. Rodney Dillard, commander of American Legion Post 5.

Boy Scouts of America Troop 30 was on hand as well, with duties that included leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

The keynote address was given by Capt. Daniel Gaines, who was raised in Rome. He is the grandson of Shannon’s well-known William Gaines, who served with Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army in WWII, and great nephew of William’s brother Milton, who was injured while serving in Italy.

Gaines’ family has a deep military history in virtually all conflicts the United States has been involved in, going back to the Indian Wars of the 19th century.

Harold Touchstone

As with the Exchange Club’s ceremony earlier in the day, Shanklin-Attaway American Legion Post 5 provided the honor guard for the presentation of colors and the gun-volley salute.

Echo Taps was performed by the Exchange Club’s Bill King and Wain Bates, with two buglers standing at some distance apart to achieve an echo effect.

Also in attendance was 97-year-old WWII veteran Howard Touchstone, who was raised on a farm near Johns Mountain. Touchstone and his twin brother, Houston, served in the Pacific Theatre. Their older brother Weldon also served. All three brothers survived the war.