Veterans of all ages were honored Friday through speeches, song and applause at ceremonies in downtown Augusta.
The Veterans Day events began at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, where aging veterans wrapped in blankets were treated to martial tunes from the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band.
Top brass from Fort Gordon appeared at all of Friday’s events, including Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Pflieger, who started his remarks with a history of Veterans Day.
Friday’s date, Nov. 11, was originally selected as Armistice Day in honor of the peace treaty signed that day in 1918 to end World War I. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day and made it an official holiday in 1954, stating it was his “earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper
and widespread observance of this day.”
Pflieger urged people to thank a veteran because “they gave some of the best years of their lives to defend our nation.”
He told the audience that veterans would be recognized as the men and women who stand at attention during the national anthem and fly the American flag every day.
He offered a special thanks for the families of veterans, who “worried and prayed while taking care of the homefront.”
At the close of his remarks, many from the crowd moved to Broad Street, where they marched in a Veterans Day parade.
Sara Skinner and her husband, Bruce, brought their two children, ages 3 and 5, to watch from the curb.
The Skinners were classmates at West Point and both served in Iraq. Sara Skinner said her children will grow up learning about the important sacrifices veterans make.
“I expect them to join and go to West Point,” Skinner said with a smile.
For Robert Hookfin, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, Veterans Day brings painful memories. He said he didn’t feel appreciated returning home from war, but he’s glad today’s veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are receiving the recognition they deserve.
“That’s a good thing, I think,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, the commanding general at Fort Gordon, finished his remarks at the Monument of All Wars at Fourth and Broad streets with this: “What our veterans
have given is beyond our ability to pay.”