Daughter of first American killed in combat in Afghanistan to speak Monday in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - The Veterans Memorial Park Association and the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority invites the community to a Memorial Day program Monday at Magnolia Shelter in Snow Hinton Park, one block southeast on McFarland Blvd.  Patriotic music begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program begins promptly at 9 a.m.

The guest speaker for this year's program is Alison Spann, daughter Johnny Michael "Mike" Spann. In 2001, Spann, who a paramilitary officer doing covert operations in the CIA, was serving in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. On November 25, 2001, he became the first American casualty in the war, and the 79th CIA employee to die in the line of duty. Mike Spann was a native of Winfield, Alabama.

"When we talk about Memorial Day, we always think about the veterans who have passed and lost their lives," U.S. Navy Commander Brian Butler, who is a member of the Veterans Memorial Park Association, said.

"But it's really also too about the families and the sacrifices they make, and Alison's going to be able to bring us a great perspective on what her family,
her brothers and sisters went through after the passing of her father."

Butler encourages community members to attend the program and spend some time Monday remembering those who died in service to their country and those veterans' families.

"See the park, see the people's names on the wall, and really just a great opportunity to really understand and think about what Memorial Day is all about."

The park includes the Honor Roll of Veterans, which is a wall with approximately 3300 Alabama veterans' names engraved on it.The inscription includes the veteran's name, branch of service and conflict or war.

Butler says if someone would like to add a name to the wall, staff will be there to take the information at the program Monday. A name may also be added by calling PARA at (205) 331-5600 or visiting this site: tuscaloosaveteranspark.org/honorroll.html

Butler says requests that are made immediately will be added to be the wall in time for Father's Day.

"It's a great opportunity, you're thinking about a gift to give a family member and you just don't know what to do, to put their name on that wall," he said. "And it will forever be there so that they and their family members can come and see that."

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