Dawson County’s sixth annual Veterans Day Celebration drew a crowd of hundreds who gathered Thursday to thank military personnel for their service and sacrifice.
The event is one of just 54 sites nationwide recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The celebration started with a formal ceremony, followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville.
Keynote speaker and Governor-elect Nathan Deal expressed his gratitude.
“On this day, Veterans Day, it is altogether appropriate that we stop, pause and remember the sacrifice of those who served.”
Deal, who himself is a veteran, said sacrifice is a concept dear to the hearts of veterans.
“Patriots and veterans know the true meaning of the word,” Deal said.
Fellow veteran Bill Ledbetter of Dawsonville said he was glad to see the turnout.
“It’s about history,” Ledbetter said. “It’s about national pride. These people support the troops, and that’s good to see.”
Fellow residents Michael and Denise Legano agreed.
“Our veterans have kept us safe,” Denise Legano said. “Without them, we’re nothing.”
Both of the Leganos’ fathers served in World War II.
“We wanted to pay tribute to them today,” Michael Legano said.
The Leganos attended both the parade and formal ceremony Thursday.
During the formal ceremony, Capt. Larry Freeland was recognized as the 2010 Veteran of the Year.
“I am honored and humbled by this, and I certainly appreciate it,” Freeland said.
The ceremony, which was held at Dawson County Middle School, also featured a 21-gun salute by the Veterans Alliance, a tribute to active military and the presentation of colors by the North Georgia Color Guard.