On Thursday Nov. 11, veterans across the United States were celebrated and honored for their service to their country. In Dawson County, several groups, organizations and individuals were determined to make the local veterans feel loved and appreciated.
Veterans Affairs of Dawson County: Veteran’s Day luncheon and parade
On the afternoon of Nov. 11, the Veterans Affairs of Dawson County held its annual Veteran’s Day event at the Dawson County Junior High School. Veterans from across the county gathered with their families in the junior high school’s cafeteria to enjoy lunch catered by Chick-Fil-A and provided by Etowah Water and Sewer Authority before enjoying a ceremony and the annual parade.
The Veteran’s Day ceremony included a speech by Dan Solla, the Georgia Chairman of PTSD USA, who talked to the veterans in attendance about his organization and its mission to take care of veterans who are struggling with post traumatic stress disorder after leaving the military to transition back into everyday life. Solla ended his speech by thanking the community members in attendance for supporting veterans like himself and the others who were there.
“This is a beautiful, wonderful thing to see; it’s great to see a community that still appreciates its veterans and still takes Veterans Day seriously for what it is,” Solla said.
After Solla’s speech, Veterans Affairs of Dawson County President Don Brown presented the “Veteran of the Year” award to Steve Pamplin, one of the leaders of the DCHS JROTC program. Brown said that Pamplin was selected as the veteran of the year because of not only his service in the military but also because of everything he does in the community.
“This veteran of the year has worked his tail off and is most deserving of the recognition,” Brown said. “He is a teacher, he is a veteran, he’s just an all-around great guy.”
Pamplin was surprised to have been selected for the award, but said that he would accept it in honor of all of his fellow veterans who had served to protect their country.
“I don’t know that I did anything more than anybody else, but I’ll accept it on behalf of you all,” Pamplin said upon receiving the award.
The ceremony ended with musical selections by DCJHS Chorus Director Kevin Woody, who sang several pieces for the veterans including a medley of the songs for each branch of the military. When each song was performed, the veterans who served in that branch of the military were asked to stand if able to be honored.
Directly following the ceremony, many of the veterans in attendance joined in on the annual Veterans Day parade. The parade, which was led off by Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson, included floats from several local groups, including the Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, K.A.R.E. for Kids and the DCHS FFA program. The DCHS Tiger Pride marching band performed songs as they marched along the street, and the DCHS JROTC program carried the flags as they went.
Dozens of onlookers cheered and waved as the parade went past. It wound out of the junior high school parking lot down highway 9, around the old courthouse and onto Allen Street before ending back in the junior high school parking lot.
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Lighthouse Christian Academy: Veterans Day Celebration
Lighthouse Christian Academy in Dawson County held a Veterans Day Celebration ceremony at 1 p.m. on Nov. 11, open to all local veterans and their families. The celebration included musical selections by the kindergarten and first through sixth grade chorus, the posting of the colors, recognition of each military branch and speeches by two guest speakers.
The ceremony began with the presentation and posting of the colors by four members of the Lumpkin County High School JROTC. Attendees participated in the Pledge of Allegiance and listened to the National Anthem sung by Frank Whitmire before a prayer by Lighthouse Baptist Church Pastor Charles Blackstock and a recognition of the special guests by LCA Principal Dewey Moye.
In his welcome and prayer, Blackstock thanked the veterans in attendance for their service and said that holding a ceremony for them is the least that the school could do.
“We’re so thankful that we could take the time to rightly honor and recognize our veterans and we appreciate you joining us today,” Blackstock said to the veterans in attendance. “We’re so thankful that you’ve taken the time out of your day for us to do what is not only appropriate, but is the patriotic and noble thing for us to do. We greatly appreciate all the veterans have done and what they mean to us.”
Following the opening remarks and prayer, the veterans in attendance were recognized and asked to stand if able to indicate what branch of the military they had served in. The song for each of the five branches played, and the veterans who had served in each branch stood up proudly as their songs played. Moye then added his thanks and appreciation to Blackstock’s earlier remarks, telling the students in attendance how important the service of veterans is.
“We have Veterans Day to appreciate their service, and to understand that sacrifice has been made to live in this wonderful nation, to be able to go to church, to believe in Christ and live a life that Isi productive,” Moye said.
The LCA kindergarten chorus and first through sixth grade chorus then sang two songs to the veterans and other audience members.
The two special guest speakers were Colonel Tom Palmer, retired commander of the Corps of Cadets at the University of North Georgia, and Colonel Paul Wingo, the immediate past president of the Military Officers Association of Georgia. Both colonels spoke about the importance of Veterans Day and of remembering those who have served to protect our country and our freedom.
The ceremony ended with a moment of silence and Taps before a reception for the veterans and their families.