For over a decade, the Ridges Cemeteries Committee and NAMI Athens have been organizing Memorial Day Ceremonies at the old Mental Hospital cemeteries at the Ridges. The primary objective is to recognize the humanity of those who are buried there and to fight stigma against the mentally ill – living and deceased.
Coming as it did in a week of heavy rain bands and tornadoes, our ceremony was blessed with surprisingly bright sunny weather. NAMI President Adrienne Nagy was the master of ceremonies. Opening remarks were given by Mayor Steve Patterson and State representative Jay Edwards. There was a scriptural reading by Deborah Woolsey, songs by Sharrell Arrocho, a veterans honor guard led by Joe Mulligan and taps by Vietnam War Veteran Caroline Cade. As the wreaths were laid, Ruth Russell read a eulogy for teacher Esther Rouainzoin while Todd Jamrose of Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare said one for Civil War veteran colored troop, Private Harrison Williams.