A Veteran's day parade and a patriotic program were held Thursday morning as a way of paying honor to all veterans for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.
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In his remarks to a large gathering at the 303 building downtown, Major General Dave Evans, the guest speaker, said it is fitting that we remember the service of our veterans. "This special day is dedicated to all who answered the call to duty, whether they live in honor among us or they sleep in valor. But it's only right that the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of each year, be set aside as our nation remembers the moment when the guns of World War I went silent and we set aside time to recognize the service and the sacrifice of our nation's veterans. From Valley Forge to Vietnam, from Kuwait to Kandahar, from Berlin to Baghdad, our veterans have borne the cost of America's wars. They have stood watch, vigilantly over the peace that we enjoy. We, the American people are grateful to these veterans and all who have fought for our freedom. So today, let us honor all of our veterans, who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedoms."
Evans also read a poem by Virginia (Ginny) Ellis called "Thank You, Dad"
"Good night, Dad," I watched my father,
As he climbed the stairs to go to bed;
"Good night, son," he softly answered,
With a vague salute to his white head.
I waved back from my big chair,
But Dad's wave was more salute;
He learned that sixty years ago,
As a World War II recruit.
The story goes ... Dad was eighteen,
When World War II broke out;
About the age my son is now,
Too young to know what life's about.
I think I know how I would feel,
If they drafted my young son;
I suppose my grandfolks felt the same,
December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-one.
Dad seldom talked about the war,
But I remember, as a kid,
Once I asked him where he went,
And what it was he did.
He said, "Someday, son, I'll tell you,
When you're old enough to know,
About the battlefields I fought on,
And the bloodshed I saw flow."
And, you know, he's never told me,
I've asked time and time again;
I do know he has some medals,
In velvet cases in his den.
He used to get them out each year,
When he donned his uniform;
Parades would be held on holidays,
And Veterans would perform.
"That's my Dad," I'd point out,
As he marched proudly down the street;
His old unit reunited,
Those old guys never missed a beat.
But I wonder how he felt and thought,
When, still a boy, he went to war,
Was it just a new adventure?
Did he know what the fight was for?
He gave up his days at college,
Instead of pigskins, he had guns;
He heard no cheers for touchdowns,
Just, "Thank God, they're on the run!"
When I was just a little kid,
Sometimes Dad screamed out at night;
Mom would say, "Go back to bed,
War dreams give your Dad a fright."
My Uncle Ned was killed in France,
That was Dad's youngest brother;
Dad wouldn't talk about him much,
What I knew ... I learned from Mother.
That was the war, they said,
To end all future wars;
How many have we had since then?
Will there be many more?
My Dad's a gentle, quiet man,
Who won't discuss his fears or pains;
He fought for those unborn, as yet,
To insure this land remains.
There is no proper way to thank him,
That will have to come from God above;
But I can, at least, extend my hand,
In sincere respect and love.
Joe Goodwin, who was a Prisoner of War during World War II, read a poem during the program by an unknown author called "The Final Inspection"
The soldier stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass;
He hoped his shoes were shining bright,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you turned the other cheek?
To my church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't;
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was rough;
I've had to break your rules my Lord,
Because the world is awfully tough.
But, I never took a thing
That wasn't mine to keep;
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear;
And sometimes ... God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here;
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand;
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints often trod;
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, soldier,
You've borne your burdens well;
Come walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in HELL!"
Members of the DeKalb County High School band marched in the parade and then performed during the program. Others participating were DCHS student Samantha Lewis, who gave a rendition of the National Anthem; Edward Frazier, who served as moderator of the program and led the audience in the Pledge to the Flag; local minister and veteran Charles "Chuck" Olson, who offered the invocation; and Susan Hinton, who performed a variety of patriotic music on the piano. At the conclusion of the program, a wreath was laid at the site of the veterans memorial monument on the south side of the courthouse.
A parade was held to kick off the day's activities, featuring local veterans riding in a pickup truck; Joe Goodwin, former POW; the DCHS band; motorcycle riders; DeKalb EMS, members of the city fire department, and city and county law enforcement officers.