Veterans honored

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Many local veterans and Decatur County citizens came together in Willis Park Tuesday morning for the Veterans Day services.

Bob Strickland, commander of American Legion Post 62, welcomed everyone and then introduced the Bainbridge High School Junior ROTC color guard commanded by Tiffany Blocker, which performed the presentation of the colors.

The BHS band, led by Band Director Paschal Ward, then performed the National Anthem.

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Hill Yates, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4904, led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by an invocation given by the Rev. Adolph Nobles.

The featured speaker at the event was retired U.S. Naval officer Dean Free, who opened giving a historic overview of Veterans Day—explaining the significance of Armistice Day, which marked the ending of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, and became Veterans Day in the United States.

“We serve to keep America strong, to protect our way of life and to maintain our freedom,” Free said. “We serve gladly and are proud of our service.”

He noted that Veterans Day is a day to recognize all veterans, living and deceased.

“Veterans Day is a day of celebration,” Free said. “We are here to honor our veterans for their commitment to maintaining our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

In closing, Free asked, “that we always remember our veterans not just on this day.”

He urged people to thank veterans, letting them know we appreciate their service.

Herbert Smiley, adjutant of American Legion Post 502, then read out the names of the veterans who have deceased since the last Veterans Day.

Following the reading of the names, a special presentation took place by Mayor Mark Harrell. He said the city was looking for something they could do for active duty members of the armed forces. Harrell said Dit Albritton, Main Street director, came up with the idea to collect letters from the children in Decatur County Schools and send them to U.S. forces serving overseas.

At the event Harrell presented the large box containing the letters to Melissa Dalton, a coordinator with the Family Advocacy Center (FAC). The center provides support to families of soldiers that are on tours of duty. They also help veterans reintegrate into society when they return home.

“Letters let the troops know that they are not forgotten, thank you for your support,” Dalton said.

In a stirring act, Leepoula Wise, commander of the American Legion Post 502, and Yates, placed a wreath in front of the monument dedicated to the men and women that have served in the armed forces as taps was played in the background.

The Veterans Day ceremony was closed with a benediction given by the Rev. Nobles.