‘We are here, you are welcome’

US. Marine Joe Garrity fires one of the cannons in the 21-gun salute. Photo available for purchase

US. Marine Joe Garrity fires one of the cannons in the 21-gun salute.

David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM.

In a moving tribute to heroism and hospitality, St. George Island welcomed scores of residents and visitors alike to share Monday in the dedication of a new flagpole at the lighthouse.

Twenty-one volleys from miniature cannons opened the Memorial Day ceremony, overseen by Jim Kemp, with the St. George Lighthouse Association.

Musical selections from the Franklin County High School Band, directed by Karl Lester, offered stirring and at times somber accompaniment, as the gathering commemorated the sacrifice of thousands of American lives, given as the ultimate contribution to the nation’s freedom and endurance.

Dennis Barnell, a Navy veteran who was among the early, dedicated proponents of rebuilding the lighthouse after it was shattered into pieces by Hurricane Dennis, introduced the 21-cannon salute. Later, he joined fellow Navy vet Fred Stanley, Marine Joe Garrity and John Ficklen III in setting off the guns.

Navy veteran Fred Lambert Sr. raised the flag from where it had stood at half-mast since sunrise. He did so in honor of a central theme of the occasion, the dedication of this maritime flagpole donated by his late son, Jimmy Lambert, who passed away in May 2013 after a battle with colon cancer

An avid sailor, boater and fisherman, Lambert and his wife Rhonda had a house on the island for nearly four decades. Friends and family wanted to donate to honor his memory in Lighthouse Park, and a maritime flagpole was chosen. Jimmy’s widow was on hand to unveil the plaque at the base of the pole.

“He was a patriotic American who loved his country and his flag,” said Lambert’s friend Alex Hinson. “Let this be a symbol of hospitality and friendship.”

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