Lincoln County’s veterans, as well as our veterans from across the nation, were paid homage last week during annual Veterans Day programs at the Lincoln County Courthouse and in schools across the community.
At the courthouse, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at the 11th hour to reflect on the service so many have given across the years up to and including present day soldiers who continue to sacrifice themselves the country they love.
Steve Weber, himself a veteran of the Marine Corps, served as master of ceremonies for the program. James Armitage, chaplain of American Legion Post 42, gave the opening prayer for the event, recognizing the one percent of Americans who pledge to protect and serve. Jerry McDow, commander of Post 42, gave the welcome, while also expressing his thoughts on the day set aside to thank veterans for their service.
In addition to the American Legion Post 42, other local groups came together to present the program, including Petersburg American Legion Post 155, Marine Corps League Detachment 702, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2167, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 580.
Gold Star mothers were recognized, including Janice Hastings Carr, whose son Tim Maddox died in the service of his country. Sue Sullivan, another local Gold Star Mother, was also recognized.
After colors were posted by local veterans, Wanda Tate sang the “National Anthem.”
“You’re my heroes, you always have been and always will be,” said Lincoln County Mayor Peggy Bevels. “I’m proud to see the crowd here today … We are share the same sentiments, that you have done a fantastic job for our nation, and we thank you, thank you, thank you … Today is not just one day we should take to thank you, we should thank you the other 364 days a year.”
Fayetteville Mayor John Ed Underwood also spoke, saying, “This is a special day of celebration for American veterans, for their patriotism, for their willingness to serve and sacrifice, for all that they have gone through for the common good of our nation, on this 11th month, 11th day and 11th hour … God Bless America.”
Next to take the podium was Bill Harp, Lincoln County’s veterans services officer, who noted that the county has 3,126 veterans living within its bounds. Last year, those veterans contributed $7.4 million to Lincoln County’s economy.
Eluding to the work he does as the county’s veterans services officer, he said last year he made 82 trips to Nashville and Murfreesboro transporting 214 veterans for needed services, and thus far those year, 252 have been transported.
The veterans services office, located in the Ralph Hastings Building at 208 East Davidson Drive, is open on Mondays and Wednesdays. He can be contacted at (931) 433-1897 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first of the program’s two keynote speakers addressed the crowd. Brooke Grubb, a major general and rising lieutenant colonel with 25 years with the Army Reserve and Tennessee National Guard, spoke of veterans and the military as a family. He went on to also recognize the families and spouses of veterans as being owed a debt of gratitude as well, and he closed with the poem, “The Unknown Soldier.”
The next keynote speaker was James Lee, a retired colonel with 32 years in the U.S. Army and former city administrator of Fayetteville as well as Bolivar.
“This is a day Congress has set aside to honor our veterans, but really, 365 days a year, you’re a veteran and we appreciate it,” he said, going on to recall wars our veterans in which our veterans have fought, the history of Veterans Day, and the treatment of veterans over the years.
“There is never a small part when you’re fighting for freedom,” he closed.
His presentation was followed by Tate who then sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Rick Perry played “Taps” from a courthouse balcony.
Lewis Curtis, a World War II veteran and a Buffalo soldier, talked about his thoughts on the day and what soldiers had done to carry out their duties and survive. He offered, in the place of the closing prayer, the poem, “A Soldier Died Today.”