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Ceremony on Friday pays tribute to veterans
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Veterans of all ages and each military branch will be honored Friday during Dawsonville's seventh annual Veterans Day celebration.

Formal ceremonies will be held at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 11 in the gym at the Dawson County Middle School, followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville that begins at 4 p.m.

"The first year we had 100 veterans. Last year, we had 700. I'm anticipating even more this year," said Dawson County Veterans Affairs President Pam Hamalainen.

Designated as a 2011 Veterans Day Regional Site by the Veterans Day National Committee, Dawsonville is one of only two regional sites in Georgia to receive the recognition.

"Dawsonville, Ga. has a reputation that we honor and respect our veterans," Hamalainen said. "We have so many from the Vietnam War that were mistreated when they came home. They come to Dawsonville, because they know they'll finally be treated with the respect and appreciation they deserve."

Wounded warriors will serve as the parade's grand marshals and will be recognized during the formal ceremony.

Capt. Larry Freeland is scheduled to serve as Master of Ceremony, while the event's keynote speaker will be Col. James "Lindy" Linder, one of the top 50 highest decorated in the country.

There will also be a tribute to honor the 2011 Veterans of the Year during the ceremony.

"We specifically honor those who have served on Veterans Day and that's as it should be. But we should also thank those who enable our veteran's to serve ... wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, girlfriends and boyfriends," Linder said. "Without the families' support back home, service would be so difficult."

Veterans and their families are also invited to a luncheon in their honor Friday. The banquet will be held in the cafeteria at 1 p.m. at Dawson County Middle School.

The public is encouraged to observe the day by lining the streets in downtown Dawsonville to show support for veterans and active military.