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Honoring service
Volunteer named veteran of the year
3 Veterans Day pic1
A crowd of hundreds lined the streets of downtown Dawsonville Saturday afternoon for the annual Veterans Day parade. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Servicemen and women of all ages and from each branch of the military shared the spotlight Saturday during Dawsonville's Veterans Day celebration.

In its eighth year, the ceremonies began with a formal tribute to veterans at Dawson County Middle School, followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville. Vietnam veterans served as the grand-marshals.

"On the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War ... we want to pay special tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Capt. Larry Freeland, the master of ceremonies.

"The men and women who served in that war did so honorably and bravely. I can assure you there are no differences in the courage shown by the Vietnam veterans than any of their counterparts before or after. You are truly the greatest of your generation."

Dawsonville is one of just two places in Georgia the Veterans Day National Committee designated as a 2012 Veterans Day Regional Site. The other is Atlanta.

In her address, keynote speaker Lt. Col. Nancy Jurgevich said she understands why Dawsonville continues to receive the designation year after year.

She noted the dozens of American flags and crosses lining the streets of downtown in memory of local military men and women who have passed.

"You don't know how much that means," said Jurgevich, a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army who serves as national president of the Vietnam Veteran Women.

"Thank you for being so kind to veterans and so supportive."

Sponsored by the local veterans affairs group, the ceremony also honors community members who are active in support of veterans.

Veterans affairs volunteers presented the Dawson County Board of Education with the annual American Spirit Award for the school system's continued support of veterans.

"This is something that's very special to us," said board member Roger Slaton, who along with Doris Cook accepted the award on behalf of the school district.

The group also honored community volunteer and Vietnam veteran Tom Quintrell with the 2012 Veteran of the Year award.

In addition to his service to the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 970, Quintrell was selected for his volunteer efforts at church and in the community, including a Memorial Day dinner he organized for veterans at the local senior center where he delivers Meals on Wheels.

"He went out to pick [the veterans] up so they could be honored at this meal," said Wayne Watkins, who recommended Quintrell for the award. "When the meal was over, he took them home as well. Tom always puts in the extra effort to see that an event like this one would be a success, and it was."

Quintrell was humbled by the recognition.

"There are so many veterans that are more worthy than I am," he said.