More than 400 residents, many decked out in red, white and blue, turned out for the 10 a.m. ceremony to pay homage to those who died in service.
The threat of rain forced the ceremony to move from the Veterans Memorial inside to the Community Center, but that didn't dampen spirits. The 530th Air Force National Guard Band played patriotic music, and floral wreaths were placed, one by one, on the stage to commemorate each major war.
As in years past, the Memorial Day event featured speakers representing each of the four branches of the military.
Harold Weekley was a bomber pilot in Europe during World War II.
"When you think the world's against you, and you read the names on the memorial walls and think of your problems, you realize that your problems are nothing compared to what they went through," said Weekley, who was shot down over France on his 20th mission and spent two and a half weeks evading capture until he reached British forces. "I remember flying at 25,000 feet and seeing the planes ahead of me with my friends in them hit, with people flying out of the planes, some with parachutes on, some not. These men were just 18, 19, 20 years old. And I still remember everything, everyday. Sometimes it takes me two to three hours to get to sleep because I remember these people and always will. I hope you will remember them as well," Weekley said.
Weekley received four Air Medals, the Purple Heart and the European Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars, and retired from the Air Force as a colonel. He later wrote about his experiences in his book called "The Last of the Combat B-17 Drivers."
Adam Mathes, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, has commanded Marine combat troops during three deployments to Iraq and is studying to be a minister.
Mathes, who is the chaplain of American Legion Post 160 in Smyrna, stressed to the crowd that Memorial Day is not just about the soldiers who fought and continue to fight for the United States, but about everyone - families, residents, friends - all coming together to remember what "we" have all been through.
Mickey Lloyd continues to serve today, as Cobb's public safety director. But as a Navy SEAL, he spent 18 months in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, earning the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars both with the Valor device, and a Purple Heart.
It was apparent Lloyd's experiences have left a mark on him, as he took a moment to compose himself when beginning to speak of his time in the Navy.
"There are a lot of experiences I would like to forget, but can't forget. There are so many we lost, so many that never came back mentally and others who are still suffering from diseases sustained in combat. I just want to say thank you," Lloyd said.
Ron Young, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army, spent 23 days as a prisoner of war shortly after the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003. Coming home to his family, he said, was "the best day of my life."
Young read a poem about a soldier's tombstone, saying afterwards, "On the grave marker, there is date of birth, a dash, and date of death. People may forget your birth and your death, but we should never forget their dash."
Outside after the ceremony, Young and other military service members helped children up into the cockpits of their helicopters and shook hands with residents, young and old.
Army veteran Ken Travis of Smyrna and his wife, Jeane, said Memorial Day is always important to them. Jeane said her brother, Frank Bettis, Jr., was killed on the last day of World War II as he guarded the battleship USS Missouri, where Japan formally surrendered in Tokyo Bay. Jeane Travis said her brother vanished in a typhoon standing guard on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.
"I was only 10 years old when it happened, but he was just 22. It had a big impact on my family and still has an impact on me," Jeane Travis said. "This day is important to remember those who died, so young, and the families they leave behind. I always think of him on this day. Always."