Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Cowetan to Die in Vietnam Remembered on Memorial Day

Donald Steven Lowery, the first Cowetan to be killed in Vietnam, will be remembered at Memorial Day ceremonies in Newnan.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2667 sponsors the annual Memorial Day program. The event will start at 11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Plaza in the city park at Jackson Street and Temple Avenue. If it rains, the program will take place in the chapel at McKoon Funeral Home, which is adjacent to the park.

VFW members distributed Buddy Poppies on Saturday -- with donations going to help needy veterans and their families. Also on Saturday, volunteers worked with VFW members to place American flags on the graves of veterans across the county.

Monday's program in Newnan follows a longstanding tradition by the local VFW of "honoring all by remembering one."

"This is a way of personalizing, of giving a face and spirit to the names on our honor rolls," said Commander John O'Connor of Post 2667.

"If our citizens can gain a sense of the loss and sorrow that results from just one death, they may better appreciate and hallow the loss of nearly half a million in World War II or some 58,000 in Vietnam. We regard Memorial Day, not as a celebration, but a time to reflect, remember, mourn and honor the sacrifices of so many who have paid for our freedom," O'Connor said.

Lowery lived his entire life in the Madras community in northern Coweta County before entering military service. His mother, Pat, still resides in the family home on Happy Valley Circle and his two sisters and three brothers live in the Atlanta area.

Donald Lowery attended the old Madras School and Newnan High School. The gymnasium at the original Madras School was named in his honor. Recently, a plaque was placed in the Madras Middle School gym honoring Lowery's service and sacrifice. Happy Valley circle was also recently declared a memorial byway in honor of Lowery and Tim Cole, another Madras resident who was a Vietnam casualty.

Lowery trained as an Infantryman at Ft. Benning after completing basic training. He was assigned to Vietnam in early December 1966 and served in the 25th Infantry Division. Just two months later, on February 2, 1967, while serving as the platoon radioman, he was severely wounded by enemy fire.

Donald Lowery died in a military hospital in Vietnam on Feb. 15. His body was returned and is interred at Oak Hill Cemetery.

The Memorial Day ceremonies will include memories of Lowery shared by family and friends. Anyone attending the ceremony who wishes to share a memory will be welcomed.

Seating at the Veterans Plaza is limited, and people planning to attend are advised to bring a folding chair. Because parking spaces are at a premium, McKoon Funeral Home management has made their parking lots available.

The Coweta Veterans Club will once again provide a community luncheon following the ceremonies and offers an open invitation. Food will be served until 2 p.m.