Veterans honored Monday

Published 11:14 am Monday, November 12, 2012

Hill Yates, Larry Carroll, Chuck Lewis and Oliver Sellers salute the colors during Monday's Veterans Day ceremony. |Justin Schuver

Hundreds of citizens and veterans filled Willis Park on Monday, as they joined together to thank America’s military during the City of Bainbridge’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.

Veterans Day fell on a Sunday this year, and so the ceremony was moved to Monday morning at 9 a.m., but the festivities weren’t at all diminished, despite being a day late. Members of the Bainbridge High School marching band played the national anthem as students from the BHS Air Force Junior ROTC program presented the colors.

The Rev. Brian Hatchett, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church and an Operation Desert Storm veteran, read the opening prayer. Hill Yates, the commander of American Legion Post 62, then introduced the guest speaker, Terrie Hurst.

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Hurst, the local Veterans Service Officer with the Georgia Department of Veterans Services, is a 1980 graduate of BHS and served in the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1989. After telling the veterans about the various benefits they are entitled to, she read a message from Pete Wheeler, the Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Affairs.

“Many have been called, many have suffered the shock and pain of battle, some disabled for life, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “Why did they do it? Simply because there was a job to be done, and they were the ones called upon to do it.

“What was the result of their sacrifice? — Simply this: America, to this day, remains a free country.”

Hurst also acknowledged the current men and women who are serving in the U.S. military.

“We also want to remember and thank the many men and women who are now serving their country here and around the world,” she said. “To those young Americans in uniform right now, all around the globe, we say ‘God speed.’ Our prayers and our sincere wishes for your safe return go out to you.”

Decatur County Commissioner Oliver Sellers, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4904, read the names of those local veterans who had passed away in the previous year. Cody Long, a drummer with the BHS marching band, provided a solemn drum roll during the reading.

Those names read were: James Lamar Alday, Russell Hall Bowen Jr., Donald R. Bryan, Edward Patrick “Pat” Burke, James Leonard Collins, Roosevelt Conyers Sr., Katie Cook, Howard Darley, Alvin Jerome Dollar, Jim Henry Donalson, Deffie A. Simpson Drexler, Eddie Tony Duke, Archie Duncan, Paul Farrington, Johnny M. Fowler, James Earl Gause, Sammy H. “Bert” Gray Jr., William David Green, Lee Monroe Hamilton, W.A. “Bill” Hardwick, Roy Edward Harrison, Charles “Chuck” Hartzog, Doyle Keith Hilton, Foy D. Hobbs, Leroy Robert Hopkins Jr., Roy E. Van Jackson, Sam McKinney Jackson, Rev. Clarence B. Jackson, James Alvin Johnson, Phillip “Phil” Johnson, Ronald David Josey, Johnny R. Kendrick, Curtis Kennedy Jr., Willie Jack King, Troy Gene Knight, John Franklin Knight III, James E. McGriff, William Gene Miller, William Earnest “Bill” Mobley, William Murphy, Leon Eugene Pyles, William Marion Rash, Edgar “Red” Olivent, Gillis Rogers, Willie Rufus Scott, Malcolm Smith, David R. “Pete” Smith, James W. “Jim” Stone, Myra Phillips Strang, William Morwood Terrell, Charles E. Thomas, Robert Bernard Thompson Jr., Leon Toole, Curtis Ward, Fred Harvey Ward, Jack Wingate, Gerald V. Woodward and Harold Yates.

Following the reading of the names, Larry Carroll and Chuck Lewis laid a memorial wreath at the veterans’ memorial, while “Taps” was played. Carroll is the commander of American Legion Post 502 and Lewis is the senior vice commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4904.

Hatchett led the closing prayer to finish the ceremony.

“Father, please help us remember the great sacrifices of those who have given their lives, so that we might have this freedom today to gather,” he said. “Thank you for this day, to be able to honor you, to remember the freedom that we hold in this country. Father, will you give us the sense to teach the next generation the respect that is due, to those who have given us so much.”