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Kelly Memorial rededication to be night to remember

For months, organizers have been putting their efforts together to best honor a man you meant so much to his community and his country.
On Saturday night, their tribute will be unveiled.
On Aug. 23, the Screven County High School football team will play its regular-season opener.
Before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff against St. John’s (S.C.) a new monument will be showcased and Kelly Memorial Stadium will be rededicated to commemorate Army Maj. Charles Kelly on the 50th anniversary of his death during the Vietnam War.
The unveiling of a new granite monument will be at 6:30 p.m. and an on-the-field rededication will be conducted starting at 7:05 p.m.
Kelly, the 1947 senior class president of Sylvania High School, was one of a dozen from Screven County who died in the Vietnam War.
Those 12 will be honored Saturday evening. Vietnam veterans are encouraged to attend the ceremony.
An enemy’s single bullet pierced Kelly’s heart as he flew his Huey in a “hot” landing zone. Donations are being collected for the cost of the monument that was placed at the front of the stadium on the high school campus Tuesday.
Individuals will be given the opportunity to buy bricks engraved with their name or business name. The bricks will be part of the walkway up to the moment. Each engraved brick is $50.
To make a donation to the monument, checks can be mailed to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7116 Commander Peter Mayer at 424 Runs Branch Road, Newington, GA 30446. Please make the checks payable to the VFW post and denote the contribution in the lower left as “Maj. Charles Kelly Rededication.”
Justin Burke, director of SCHS bands, will lead his band members in “God Bless America” and he and drum major Darius Williams will play TAPS.
Burke said the students are looking forward to being part of the pregame ceremony.
“I told them why he was important to our county, to the war and to the nation,” Burke said. “It is a privilege to be able to honor him and the Vietnam veterans.”
Traditionally, the band members do not wear their full uniforms for the first game of the season because of the heat. However, because of the significance of the event the band will be fully dressed.
Kelly’s daughter Carol Dorn, who attended the final committee meeting about the event, was impressed with how much has been done to organize the program.
“I have been so impressed with the committee that is spearheading Sylvania’s very special event this coming Saturday,” Dorn said. “Paying such a tribute to Major Charles Kelly, as well as recognizing others involved in the Vietnam conflict, says a lot about the town itself. My father and mother both grew up in this town and cared deeply about it. I, myself, carry so many wonderful memories connected to it. Though I only lived in Sylvania a total of  2 and 1/2 years during my childhood, my roots are here and I will always think of it as my hometown. Charles Jr., Barbara, and I, along with our families, are so appreciative of this special rededication to our father 50 years later.”
VFW Post 7116 commander Peter Mayer:
“It has been an honor working with the group of people working on this project for Maj. Kelly. It has been a gratifying experience to honor him and all our heroes from the Vietnam War. Welcome home to all. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
Committee member Burton Kemp Jr. agreed.
“I am proud to be a part of anything that honors Charles Kelly. My father talked about him a lot and I just grew up knowing he was a hero,” Kemp said. “A lot of folks around here apparently don’t know that.  They don’t know who the Kelly of Kelly Memorial Stadium is.  After this week they should know and we should make sure that the next generation doesn’t forget. Do remember that this night is also about honoring our Vietnam Veterans.  You know they did not get a lot of honor when they came home, maybe now it is time.”
Mayor Margaret Evans:
“It has been a great honor for me to work with the VFW and ‘Friends of Major Charles Kelly’ in the planning of the Rededication of Kelly Memorial Stadium.  Major Charles Kelly is a real hero and we hope after the Rededication of Kelly Memorial Stadium  Saturday evening, Aug. 23, no one will ever forget for whom the Stadium is named!  Both the Unveiling of the Monument and the Pregame Program will be awesome! We hope we have Vietnam Veterans lined inside the stadium fence from goal post to goal post! You don’t want to miss it! “