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The real heroes

Yesterday I had the honor of attending the Veterans Day celebration in Willis Park and to stand among many unsung heroes from our community. The former and current members of our nation’s military nearly outnumbered the family and friends of the estimated 150 in attendance.

As I stood beside my father, a veteran of World War II and charter member of the local V.F.W., I was amazed at the lack of participation or attendance by local governmental leaders. While others may have attended, I was only able to detect our sheriff and a few other law enforcement officials in the crowd. Where were those folks who only a few days earlier were asking for our votes and dollars to support their causes and to assist them in being elected to lead our community, state and nation?

If you, as elected officials, had been in attendance you would have heard a stirring story of how one local citizen received his notice to serve this great country and did so without seeking an easy way out. You could have, in only a few short moments, observed young men and women of Decatur County giving their time to serve in a Junior ROTC Color Guard as well as the Bainbridge High School Band to play for this special day of recognition. If you had attended you would have heard the words of one of our local pastors as he asked for God’s continued guidance for our nation and all peace-seeking nations of the world. And, most of all you would have witnessed the continued respect for our nation and all of its glory shown through the eyes of former military men and women who through their dedication made it possible for you to seek election.

On a personal note, you, as office holders, could have witnessed my 91-year-old father as he joined with others of his generation, as well as those from the time period of the Korean War, the Vietnam conflict, and the most recent ongoing fight for world safety throughout the Middle East as they each came to attention for the presentation of Old Glory and the playing of the National Anthem. If you were in attendance you could have taken a few moments to meet the real heroes of our nation and the backbone of south Georgia and Decatur County.

Hopefully, wherever you were yesterday you took a moment to say a prayer in appreciation of the many veterans from our wonderful community who, through their unselfish dedication, made it possible for you to have a community to lead. Those few elected officials in attendance understand the meaning of true leadership from someone willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. All of us in attendance yesterday heard the names of fellow Decatur Countians we have lost this year and it is now too late for you to say a last thank you for their service to our community and the nation all in the name of world peace.

Possibly next year all of the local elected officials will demonstrate appreciation of these heroes through their attendance at this special celebration in their honor. Those of us in attendance yesterday were humbled to stand among the real giants of our country.

Emory Johnson
Climax, Ga.