Dawson County on Monday honored the men and women who sacrificed their lives defending this country.
More than 60 people gathered at Veterans Park to honor their loved ones and all fallen heroes. World War II veteran Walter Victor, 96, and his wife, Ruth, were among the crowd.
Retired Col. Don Brown, chair of the Veterans Affairs of Dawson County, delivered the keynote address.
These brave Americans left the safety of their sovereign soil to defeat tyranny, ensure justice,and fulfill the promise of safety and security for us and for all citizens around the world, Brown said. Their lives were dedicated not to conflict and death but to compassion and to light.
Six-year-old Chloe Thurmond took the microphone and sang the National Anthem, becoming the youngest Dawson County resident to do so. She later was presented with six red roses by Inez Couch and hugged by Walter Victor.
Mike Owen, pastor of New Life Church of God, delivered the invocation, and Dawson County High Schools JROTC Color Guard raised the flags of the military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
We must also honor, in some way, those spouses and caregivers who today receive home loved ones with damaged bodies and suffering memories, Brown said.
He told the story of a loving spouse who committed suicide in 2005 after living with a husband who suffered the effects of the war in Vietnam for 40 years.
He had PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder), but in those days it was not diagnosed, Brown said. He brought home to his young wife the agony of war and the ill will of his fellow Americans and carried the scars for all those years. These families and spouses need to also be remembered.
Taps was performed by Greg Cole, and the laying of two wreaths was conducted by American Legion Post 247 and the Military Officers Association of America.
Mentioning the ongoing war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brown shared a letter written by Sgt. William Stacey, who was killed when he encountered an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol in Afghanistan, his fourth deployment.In the letter Stacey left behind, he described the plight of children in Afghanistan and noted their future is based on new schools being built by Americans.
...If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know it was all worth it, Stacey wrote.
At cemeteries throughout the world, Brown said, American flags billow.
These countless graves remind us freedom is not free, he said. In our world terror will not rest; violence will not sleep, and evil will not die. If we honor those who served, compassion will prevail; justice will triumph, and freedom will reign.
The Veterans Affairs of Dawson County was formed in 2006 to honor veterans by remembering them through services and celebration.