North Fulton County

Metro honors fallen heroes on Memorial Day

NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — People are coming together to honor our nation's fallen heroes this Memorial Day.

Channel 2 Action News has crews at some of the ceremonies happening across metro Atlanta.

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach is at the parade in Dacula, which gets bigger and bigger each year.

This is one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation, and one of largest observances in Georgia.

The tradition started in 1994 as a way to honor veterans, display patriotism and, most importantly, remember those lost.

The parade included more than 150 entries, with the largest and most poignant being the fallen heroes of Georgia -- a placard for each of the state's 228 service members lost since 2001, one entry that sadly grows larger each year.

"Memorial Day is about those we've lost and giving commemoration to those we've lost,” Nancy Baldwin said. “And we have a friend who lost a son, and his name is on one of those placards, so we always watch for his name ... very special to us."


This year's Grand Marshall is one of the last of the greatest generation, Mary Pittman, a U.S. Women's Army Corps veteran of WWII, now 95 years old.

Channel 2's Sophia Choi was at the state's largest Memorial Day ceremony in north Fulton County.

The event is at Roswell City Hall.

Thousands of people from all over Georgia and the southeast come to this annual event that started in 1997.

Choi spoke to some of the folks who say it's an important day.

“I think just appreciating the sacrifice that those have made for our freedom today,” Shari Binder said. “I'm with the Daughters of the Revolution and that's especially meaningful because patriotism is one of our main philosophies.”

The ceremony is a non-political, non-commercial ceremony that honors those who gave their all, defending our country, but we found both candidates, in the runoff for the hotly contested 6th Congressional District amongst the crowd.

Choi saw Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff shaking hands and speaking with potential voters.

Before the rain moved in Monday, the sun bathed hundreds at the Marietta National Cemetery.

Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt was there as speakers called on the younger generation to remember the sacrifices made in years past.

Before the speakers took the stage, David Price brought his two young sons to walk among the 18,000 gravesites, each with an American flag placed on them.

"This day's not all about barbecues and swimming pools, and I just wanted to make sure I impressed upon them what this is all about," Price said.

Before long, hundreds would join them at the cemetery for the 73rd straight year to recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

After the tradition, pageantry and salutes, the crowd filtered out, leaving Price hoping it will be a lesson never forgotten.

"I think seeing is believing and this day is like no other and I just want them to grow up with this as a memory," Price told Cavitt.

In Alpharetta, a big crowd gathered at the city hall for a Memorial Day tribute. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was among the speakers.

In Henry County, visitors lined the veterans’ wall that honors those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The wall has the inscription “all gave some, some gave all,” on it.

Channel 2’s Gwinnett County bureau reporter Tony Thomas attended a Memorial Day ceremony in Lawrenceville.

Among those honored was the latest name to be added to the Gwinnett County Fallen Heroes’ memorial: Todd Helcher.

He was in Desert Storm and then came back to serve in Georgia law enforcement. He died in his Braselton police vehicle 12 years ago.

Holden Helcher was just 6 years old when his father died in a car wreck coming home from work as a Braselton police sergeant.

“Riding around in a patrol car, turning lights and sirens on. We did everything together,” Helcher told Thomas.

Helcher found out Sunday night that Gwinnett County would be honoring his father at the annual gathering.

Helcher said he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps. He plans to go to college and then off to the trooper academy.

“He's my hero, no doubt,” Helcher told Thomas.