News from the Tennessee Valley News

Ronnie Thomas

Shirley Brackin's husband, four sons and a grandson served in the U.S. military.
Courtesy photo illustration
Shirley Brackin's husband, four sons and a grandson served in the U.S. military.

Compilation of military history
Priceville woman's collage illustrates family's service

PRICEVILLE — A glance at the collage says it all. You're looking at a military family.

And as another Veterans Day approaches, Shirley Brackin of Priceville couldn't be more proud of the contributions her husband, four sons and a grandson made to their country.

Her husband, Gary Brackin, who retired from the Navy, died at 68 in 2002. Her son, David Devon Newton of Huntsville, who served in the Air Force, died at 43 more than eight years ago.

But it's almost like reveille as they and the other men of the family come together in the collage.

That was the image Shirley Brackin wanted. She got it from Ruth Walker of Photo Art and Photography in Madison's Hughes Plaza.

Visitors with a military bent studying the collage will recognize something that Brackin doesn't have to point out. The family represents all branches of the military.

James Paul Newton, 51, of Sandwich, Ill., is a former Marine. His son, James Paul Jr., 26, of Moolison, Ohio, served in the U.S. Coast Guard. William Albert Newton, 46, of Priceville was in the Air Force and Steven Jay Newton, 45, of Brunswick, Ga., retired from the Army.

Walker had a painstaking job pulling the men together. She said Wednesday she worked from snapshots, wallet size photos, even Polaroid's. Brackin didn't have a photo of her deceased son in uniform.

Walker said she suited him up by "stealing" the Air Force uniform off William. But they're a grand group, as far as Brackin is concerned, who presented photos to each survivor.

She said she decided to have Walker do the collage two years ago after someone recommended her.

"I'm a very patriotic person," said Brackin, 72, a sister to the late Lawrence County Sheriff Grady Rose. "I support the United States with all my heart."

Brackin is a native of Courtland and her husband was from Town Creek. When she retired as assistant vice president of San Diego Savings Bank on Dec. 31, 1992, they returned to Alabama.

"In a sense, we're all home now," she said. "When they're apart, they, too can look at the photo and recall the times together."

Celebrating Veterans Day

You can celebrate Veterans Day in The Valley with activities ranging from a parade to a flag retirement ceremony for military personnel who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans Day is Sunday, so some groups are holding their activities Saturday or Monday. A list of activities submitted to The Daily is as follows:


  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4765 in Athens, 11 a.m., at facility on Alabama 127 north of downtown; guest speaker will be Limestone County Probate Judge Mike Davis; chicken stew provided free, or carryout for $3 a quart.

  • Shoal Creek Baptist Church fellowship hall at 1077 Shoal Creek Road, Decatur, 10 a.m. to noon; call 355-0424.


  • Grant Street Church of Christ, downtown Decatur, 9 a.m. Sunday school, 10 a.m. worship, fellowship meal following; honoring veterans recognition service.


  • Decaturís annual Veterans Day parade, 9:30 a.m., at Second Avenue and Gordon Drive; route will follow Second Avenue to Lee Street to Bank Street and end at the Old State Bank; combined patriotic organizations will have a Veterans Day program at the Old State Bank.

  • Veterans Day flag retirement ceremony by the Ardmore Cub Scouts, 2 p.m., Ardmore annex building behind Peopleís Bank; special guests are those who have returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan; chicken stew to follow.

    Holly Hollman

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  • Ronnie Thomas
    Ronnie Thomas
    DAILY Staff Writer

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