City holds annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at Willis Park

Published 5:04 pm Monday, November 13, 2023

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The city of Bainbridge held its annual Veteran’s Day ceremony in Willis Park Friday morning. Mayor Edward Reynolds took to the podium first to welcome the crowd; following the welcome, Reverend Melissa Trevor delivered the invocation, with the Bainbridge High School JROTC presenting the colors and Leigh Powell performing the National Anthem. Throughout the program, the BHS band provided music. BPS officer Dillon Casteel lead the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, after which, Jamie Sinko introduced the event’s main speakers, Don and Patti Fabian, owners of At Ease Campground and founders of the veteran-oriented non-profit, Operation At Ease.

“I would like to start today by thanking God, and all those among us who, despite the risk and sacrifice, raised their hand to serve and defend this beautiful country,” Don said as he took to the stand. He gave a brief overview of the history of Veteran’s Day, as well as the statistics for surviving veterans. Don Fabian has over 30 years of service in the Army. He recounted some of his experience with other veterans, and encouraged the attendees to take some extra effort to express their appreciation to vets on Veterans Day.

“‘Thank you’ is always appropriate and appreciated, but on Veteran’s Day, make it special,” Don said. “When you see a vet, or if you know a vet, reach out and call them, let them know you’re thinking about them… Buy them a cup of coffee, take a vet to lunch, and treat. Make Veteran’s Day special, because it is, and they are.”

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After Don finished speaking, Patti took her turn. Patti Fabian is, like her husband, a veteran, having served six years with the Air Force rather than the Army.

“I often get asked, ‘How did a New York girl end up in south Georgia?’” Patti said, recalling how similar her childhood home in the Adirondack Mountains wasn’t too dissimilar from Bainbridge, “we just have a Northern accent.” She told the audience of how she and Don ended up purchasing the Jack Wingate property and converting it into At Ease Campground. According to her, part of the inspiration for purchasing it was discovering part of the land had been part of Fort Scott; additionally, the couple saw a rainbow after praying on the decision, which they took as a sign. “It was that rainbow that brought us to Bainbridge and Lake Seminole.” She also told of her history in the military, as well as her children’s service. “It’s probably safe to say, the military is our lifestyle,” she said.

Following Patti’s speech, members of the American Legion and VFW placed the wreaths at the downtown veteran’s memorials. Officer Chris Moore delivered the salute to departed veterans, with the BHS band performing taps. Finally, the ceremony was concluded with Rev. Trevor providing the benediction.