Local veterans honored in Willis Park ceremony

Published 11:10 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Early Monday morning, Bainbridge city councilman and Gordon Grove Missionary Baptist Church pastor Joe Sweet thanked military veterans for their unselfish and heroic service to the country during the Veterans Day breakfast address at American Legion Post 502.
“It is good to see so many brave veterans here today,” Sweet said. “You and other brave veterans totally committed yourselves by being willing to put your lives on the line, to preserve the many great freedoms we enjoy as Americans today. You, active military personnel who are serving now and active military personnel who will serve in the future, are all comrades who truly love their country.”
The celebration continued to Willis Park, where Bainbridge residents honored all veterans, both alive and deceased, who fought and continue to fight to keep Decatur County free.
Bainbridge State College president Dr. Richard Carvajal talked about the history of Veterans Day and the memories BSC students, faculty and staff have of their family members and friends who served in the military.
“This is an incredibly important day for our entire country and certainly for our community, locally,” Carvajal said. “My role is simply a representative one, to represent all the folks from the college. We have lot of veteran students and employees out there.”
The fact that so many people gathered on a cold November morning to honor those who served is what Carvajal believes makes the Decatur County community so great.
Following Carvajal’s address, American Legion Post 502 Commander George Freeman and VFW Post 4904 Commander Hill Yates jointly placed a wreath on the park monument in memory of deceased Decatur County veterans of all wars. A Bainbridge High School band member played “Taps” in the background.
The colors were presented by the Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC color guard. County commissioner Oliver Sellers, a member of Post 4904, read the list of Decatur County veterans who have passed away since last Veterans Day.
Chuck Lewis, Senior Vice Commander of VFW Post 4905, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Lewis said as a 20-year air force veteran, he and his family had to make significant sacrifices.
“So I appreciate the veterans today making the same sacrifices so we can maintain our freedom,” he said. To Lewis, the ceremony was beautiful. “The people of Bainbridge are just wonderful. I’m proud to live here.”
On October 8, 1954, after American forces fought gallantly in World War II and against aggression in Korea, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day proclamation.
Since then, Americans have honored the service of men and women who fought and continue to fight for America’s freedom.
The ceremony in Willis Park is an annual Decatur County tradition that recognizes the military’s valiant effort. For Yates, the ceremony is enough to bring a tear to his eye.
“It’s just one of those things that makes you proud to be an American and especially proud to be a Decatur County citizen,” Yates said.

Staff writer Joe Crine contributed to this report

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