To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 2018, Veterans Affairs of Dawson County hosted the 14th annual Veterans Day celebration luncheon and ceremony with a special tribute to those of Dawson County who fought in World War I.
Former president of Veterans Affairs Don Brown paid tribute to the 44 men entombed in Dawson County who enlisted in the First World War over a century ago.
The names of the 44 soldiers are immortalized at the memorial site at Veterans Memorial Park on Hwy. 9 North.
“I am proud to stand here and honor those men from Dawson County who served the nation in World War I, being called upon to do their duty,” said Brown, before explaining a parable fitting for “every Veteran in this place.
“There was a sparrow who was told the sky was falling. He laid down on his back. The horseman of the king came riding by and looked at the sparrow and said, ‘Why are you lying on your back?’ He said, ‘The sky is falling and I am going to hold it up.’ The horseman laughed and said ‘Do you think you can hold it up?’ The sparrow replied ‘We do what we can do,’” said Brown. “And I think the veterans of this place, we do what we can do.”
Current Veterans Affairs of Dawson County President Tim Costley took a moment to explain the significance of the red poppy, the flower that became the symbol of WWI remembrance due to the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.
“Long before the Great War the red poppy had become a symbol of death, renewal in life. The seeds of the flower can remain dormant in the earth for years, but will blossom spectacularly when the soil is churned,” said Costley. “Beginning in late 1914 the fields of northern France in Flanders became a scene of stupendous disturbances. Red poppies soon appeared.”
In the poem, the red poppy flowers have grown in Flanders Field, which was once covered in the blood of lives lost in World War I. Since the poem’s publication in 1918, the red poppy has become an international symbol of the lives sacrificed and the hope that none had died in vain.
Costley also noted the honor of Dawson County being nationally recognized as a regional site for Veterans Affairs in Georgia.
“Each year the Veterans Administration nationally recognizes two locations in each state to be designated as regional sites for the VA,” Costley said. “The other one [besides Dawsonville], by the way, in the state of Georgia is the city of Atlanta, so I am very honored, as we all are, to have this designation bestowed upon us.”
During the ceremony, the 2018 Veteran of the Year award recipient was announced by Vietnam Veteran Wayne Watkins.
Sgt. Albert Andrew Day, an Alpharetta born Vietnam veteran, serving in the third, infantry fourth battalion Delta company until his honorable discharge in 1970, received the award for his military service and his continued efforts within the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 970.
Day currently serves on the board of directors and served as the special operations officer in charge of the chapter’s primary fundraising event for two years.
“I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I’ll take it with honor,” Day said. “My tour in Vietnam might not have been as exciting as some of you, but it was really an experience, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it.”