The Air Force Reserve Band’s Brass Quintet Ensemble from Robbins Air Force Base had just put down its instruments when an AT-6 aircraft crossed the blue sky for a flyby. And while the national anthem sounded down on the ground, a parachuter was heading from the sky toward the ceremony to deliver the U.S. flag.
And that was only the beginning of the official program of the sixth annual Honor Our Veterans Day Saturday at Candler Field Museum in Williamson.
“When I returned from Vietnam in 1967, I didn’t receive a warm welcome from anyone but my family,” said Candler Field Museum Director and Vietnam War veteran Ron Alexander. “Thank God that has changed. We now give them the respect that they deserve.”
The distinguished speaker of the program, ret. Lt. General Ron Helmley, also recognized the veterans of the United States Armed Forces as a very special group.
“Today is our day to remember those who have served and those who are still serving,” Helmley said. “Today we honor and embrace every warrior from every war.”
The commanding general of the United States Army Reserve told the audience how he met numerous service members who felt their contributions were rather small – only to tell them that their efforts are just as crucial as those of any other service member.
“Our democracy depends on the willingness of our finest men and women to serve. Military service in the United States is not a job. It’s a life of service and sacrifice,” he said. “This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we are free because of the brave.”
After the performance of patriotic songs by Sylvia Hollums, state Rep. and World War II veteran John Yates addressed the crowd, filling in for World War II Women’s Army Corps veteran Helen Denton, who became sick the night before the ceremony.
“It’s a great thing to be here today. I have great honor for all of you,” Yates said as he shared some of his experience as an Air Force pilot during the war. “Don’t let anybody kid you – war is hell.”
The Griffin High School JROTC Drill team also showcased its skills before all five branches of the Unites States Armed Forces Flags were presented by The Griffin High School JROTC Color Guard – Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard – and were recognized individually. Audience members lined up behind their service flags and walked past the stage while greeting and shaking hands with World War II veterans.
Toward the end of the program, the local Marine Corps League detachment performed a flag-folding ceremony and a rifle volley before playing taps. A missing-man formation concluded the event.
Kiwanis celebrates service members with patriotic program
by Thomas Hoefer Griffin Daily News
The Kiwanis Club of Griffin held its annual patriotic program Wednesday to salute the United States Armed Forces.
“U.S. history, though in no way perfect, has been exceptional as to this country’s recognition and protection of the rights of men,” said Kiwanis Club Committee Chair Brennan MacDowell in his introduction. “And among the reasons it has been so is the exceptional character of America’s fighting men and women — America’s Armed Forces.”
After a musical interlude by Eric Moye and the presentation of colors by the Griffin High School JROTC, the Kiwanis Club presented a parade of service flags in which veterans offered a brief history of the different services branches within the United States Armed Forces.
Allan Imes spoke about the U.S. Army, as Abdul Salaam carried the service flag. MacDowell talked about the U.S. Marines, with Robert Langford carrying the flag. Jim Hall shared information on the U.S. Navy with the audience, followed by Harry Todd carrying the flag. Wayne Stutes provided insight on the U.S. Air Force, as Tom Lipscomb carried the flag and David Beach spoke about the U.S. Coast Guard, with Doug Patterson carrying the flag.
A slide show titled “Then and Now” showed local veterans during their time of service and in the present before the Kiwanis Chorus presented Song for the Unsung Hero under the direction of Sylvia Hollums.
“Thank you to all our veterans who have made this country great,” said Special Projects Committee Chair Rita Cavanaugh, who was in charge of the patriotic program.