Veterans Day ceremony held on square Saturday
By Leila Beem Núñez, Editor
Dozens of veterans, their families, elected officials and other citizens gathered once again Saturday (Nov. 11) on the square to honor those who have served and who continue serving in the country’s armed forces. Manchester’s annual Veterans Day ceremony was sponsored by the Coffee County Veterans Association and presented by the local chapters of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.
The ceremony, which begins each at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate the signing of the armistice that ended World War I, included an invocation, the singing of the national anthem by Landon Spangler and Karen Wainright, and the customary posting of colors by the Coffee County Sheriff Honor Guard. The Westwood Middle School band was also on hand to perform a medley of hymns, for each branch of the armed forces.
Master of Ceremonies Lamar Wilkie thanked veterans for their service, and recognized the strength of military spouses at home. Wilkie encouraged veterans to be proud of themselves for their roles “in wartime or peace,” and to commend themselves for serving the military selflessly.
“We all ought to express gratitude to those who have served and those who continue to serve today so that America can sleep peacefully at night,” Wilkie said. “And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the efforts of our military spouses and family members who keep our troops focused on the mission and not problems at home.”
The day’s guest speaker was Sgt. Major Larry Williams, Retired, U.S. Army, who used as a theme for his remarks the service and duty that binds each and every veteran. Williams told the crowd the story of his upbringing, of a child raised by a veteran of World War II, his adoptive father. Many years later, Williams revealed, he would be contacted by a biological brother he never knew he had, and would come to find out something else: his biological father had also been a veteran of WWII, as well as of the Korean War and the war in Vietnam.
Williams, who served from 1967 to 1995 and still volunteers much of his time to veterans’ organizations and benefit events, said his service was undoubtedly influenced by those of both of his fathers.
“It has been such a journey to find out that you had the benefit of having two Great Generation WWII veterans in your life serving as your parents,” Williams said.
Williams emphasized to the crowd the need to make sure those who served get the help and care they need when they come home and as they get older.
“We all have to help our veterans,” Williams said. If you drove here today, if you rode a bus here today, if you jogged here today, if you walked here today, if you low-crawled here today, God has given you the abilities and the faculties to help a fellow veteran.”
The ceremony also included remarks by Kim King, local VFW post commander; Eugene Warren, American Legion commander; Howard Thompson, commander, DAV; and music by Dennis Teal. The day was closed with the singing of “God Bless America” by the crowd and a benediction by Chaplain Bob Brinkmann.