May 30—ALBANY — While remembering the war dead and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country was the primary focus of Monday's Memorial Day holiday, there was no shortage in southwest Georgia of those celebrating the "unofficial start of summer."
From solemn ceremonies honoring fallen military personnel by groups like American Legion Post 30 and a candlelight vigil for victims of the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, to a Memorial Day parade in Sylvester, to cookouts, to family gatherings, to time spent on the many area waterways, Southwest Georgians made the most of the three-day holiday.
"America has responded (to the 2012 mass shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.) with record gun sales, topping 10 million a year in a country that has more than 400 million guns for 300 million men, women and children," said Tim Wesselman, who helped organize the vigil Saturday at the courtyard in front of the Albany-Dougherty Government Center.
"How did we as a country get here? It is simple: We have accepted a couple of big lies: ... 'Guns don't kill people (people kill people)' and 'You cannot reduce gun deaths without taking away guns.'"
Others in Albany took advantage of familiar events and landmarks to enjoy the perfect — if muggy — southwest Georgia weather that is the precursor to some three months of oppressive heat that will keep all but the brave indoors for most of the season.
Shoppers looked for unique items at the Tift Park Community Market, some enjoyed a cool treat while relaxing at Riverfront Park downtown, while still others took to the water: at Chehaw Park and Zoo's Splash Pad and on local waterways like the Kinchafoonee Creek, Lake Chehaw and the Flint River.