They gave their lives for our country and now their sacrifice has been memorialized at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta. 42 members of the Georgia National Guard have been killed since the Global War on Terror began in 2003.
Thursday, guardsmen and their families dedicated a new memorial wall to the fallen.
“On this wall carved in the granite are the words, ‘we shall remember,’” Major General Jim Butterworth told the crowd during the ceremony. “Today with this dedication of this memorial, I can promise you, I can promise the families that we shall.”
The curved wall features 42 black plaques that bear the names and photos of each of the fallen. SSG George R. Draughn, Jr.’s picture was installed just to the left of a memorial fountain.
“It was the first one I saw when I came in,” said Stephanie Barfield, Draughn’s oldest sister. “It came out great. It really did.”
Draughn was the youngest of four siblings and the only boy. Barfield and her youngest sister, Charlene Demming, both attended the memorial. They agreed the wall and the dedication ceremony were the perfect way to honor their brother.
“It feels good,” explained Demming. “It feels great to let us know that not only we miss him, but others miss him also.”
The ceremony proved difficult at times. Members of the Georgia National Guard read each guardsman’s name, age and the date they lost their lives.
Draughn died on September 1, 2005 from the blast of an improvised explosive device in Al Mahmudiyah, Iraq.
“Every year you can tell, well, I can always tell when it’s getting closer to that time. I get this little eerie feeling,” Barfield said. “It’s very hard.”
“Like she said, coming up close to September, you get a little down,” added Demming.
The sisters, however, said they plan to visit the wall often to honor their brother’s memory.
“I come to this side pretty much every day,” said Demming, who works just next door at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. “I will stop by, of course. I’ve got to show it off.”