Gov. Ivey, Sen. Strange pay homage to veterans at Alabama National Cemetery on Memorial Day

By Greg Garrision

AL.com 

Gov. Kay Ivey, U.S. Sen. Luther Strange and other dignitaries paid homage to Alabama's war dead on Monday in a Memorial Day ceremony at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.

"Those men and women paid the ultimate price to give us the freedom we enjoy today," said Gov. Kay Ivey, one of the featured speakers. "We all know freedom isn't free."

"There is no greater honor than to give one's life for our country," said U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell. "It is an honor and noble duty to serve one's country."

Strange mentioned that his only uncle, Stephen R. Batson Jr., a Birmingham native born on July 4, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1937, was killed in action in 1943 during World War II. Batson's wife was pregnant, so Strange's cousin never met his father.

"There is no state in the union that has done more for this country, that has dedicated more in blood, sweat and tears, than the State of Alabama," said Strange, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Every family represented here has sacrificed."

Strange also visited the Alabama Veterans Memorial Park at Liberty Park on Sunday, where he saw his uncle's name engraved on the memorial wall along with 11,000 other names of Alabamians killed in action. 

Relatives of Alabama's war dead placed 3,000 roses on graves at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo on Monday.

"Each of the stone markers around us signifies the cost of freedom," said Paula Stokes, relationship manager of the Southeast District Veterans Experience Office.