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Annual ceremony pays tribute to veterans
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Veterans of all ages and each military branch will be honored Nov. 10 during Dawsonville's eighth annual Veterans Day celebration.

Formal ceremonies will be held at 1:45 p.m. in the gym at the Dawson County Middle School, followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville that begins at 3 p.m.

"The public is invited to line the streets in downtown Dawsonville with ‘Welcome Home' signs and show support for our veterans and active military," said Pam Hamalainen with Dawson County Veterans Affairs.

Designated as a 2012 Veterans Day Regional Site by the Veterans Day National Committee, Dawsonville is one of only two regional sites in Georgia to receive the recognition. The other is Atlanta.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the United States beginning the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, the festivities will include a special recognition for Vietnam veterans, who will serve as the event's grand marshals.

"We all know the terrible treatment they received when they landed on American soil. Protesters cursed them, spit on them and threw rotten tomatoes at them. This year, we are going to give our Vietnam Veterans the ‘Welcome Home' that they never received," Hamalainen said.

Capt. Larry Freeland is scheduled to serve as Master of Ceremonies, while the event's keynote speaker will be Retired LTC Nancy J. Jurgevich, current president of the Woman's Vietnam Veterans Organization.

"We will concentrate most of our efforts on our Vietnam Veterans, but of course, we are going to honor all our veterans and active military," Hamalainen said. "We all must get involved and show support by attending the formal ceremony and then line the streets and cheer as our heroes pass by in the parade."

There will also be a tribute to honor the 2012 Veteran of the Year during the ceremony.

Veterans and their families are also invited to a private luncheon before the festivities. The banquet will be held at 12:15 p.m. in the cafeteria at Dawson County Middle School.