VALDOSTA -- Many Georgians will take part in a moment of silence today at 1 p.m. in remembrance of the soldiers who gave their lives fighting the war on terror and those who continue to serve the United States defending freedom.

Lowndes County employees invite residents to join them on the county courthouse lawn at 1 p.m. to pause and think of the many sacrifices made.

County Chairman Rod Casey said the moment is a traditional honor given to soldiers to show respect for their service.

"We want the community to remember we lost one if its own, part of our community," Casey said.

Two soldiers from Valdosta's Alpha Company, part of the 48th Brigade's 2nd Battalion, died in late July after roadside bombs exploded near their Humvee vehicles near Baghdad.

The men, best friends Spc. Ronnie "Rod" Shelley and Sgt. John Frank Thomas, touched many hearts in Valdosta and caused an outpouring of community support.

Mayor John J. Fretti worked with city officials and local florists to put up yellow and red, white and blue bows on downtown buildings and light posts, further encouraging residents and businesses to tie up ribbons at their homes and offices and visibly show support for the home-based troops serving in Iraq.

Fretti said city employees will pause in their departments to express sympathy.

"We are officially celebrating our moment of silence in a personal fashion," Fretti said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued a statement of sympathy for the fallen Georgia soldiers on Aug. 4:

"While the death of any American soldier is tragic, these deaths fall particularly close to home because these soldiers are our fathers, brothers, neighbors, coworkers and friends. These are the citizen soldiers that live next door.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of these fallen soldiers, and those that fell before them," Perdue said.

Local businesses tacked bows on signs and some handed out ribbons for employees to wear on their uniforms.

Jeff Carter, store manager for the Publix grocery store on Gornto Road, said the store offered tiny ribbons that employees could pin on their shirts and aprons.

"We want to support our troops," Carter said.

Oversize American flags fly at several Valdosta businesses and countless cars display yellow-ribbon bumper stickers.

Fretti said the city will leave bows up until the troops come home.



To contact Kenna Walsh call 244-3400, ext. 237.



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