Augusta honors veterans with ceremony, parade

 

The commander of Fort Gor­don’s Signal Corps called on Amer­icans to remember Veterans Day as not another day off from work, but one honoring those who fought and in some cases died for their country.

“We need to remind ourselves and all others of this great country of the immense cost and precious lives that have been spent to allow us to remain free and to be the world’s strongest and greatest democracy,” Maj. Gen. LaWarren Pat­terson said Monday.

Patterson, the keynote speaker at the Veterans Day Cere­mony at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, said the holiday also honors today’s service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Even after more than two centuries of existence, our nation is still having to call upon its sons and daughters to go into harm’s way to protect and defend our way of life,” he said.

Service members stood tall behind veterans from the nursing home, who enjoyed the event from an outdoor courtyard. Some waved small American flags, clapped with family members or stood at attention as the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band played a medley of service songs.

“You prove that the true strength of this nation is in its people,” Patterson told them.

A parade Monday honoring veterans featured service members and local marching bands. It went down Broad Street to the All Wars Monument at Fourth Street. People ventured out of downtown office buildings to line the route.

Frank Jenkins Jr., a retired member of the 25th Infantry Di­vi­sion who served two tours in the Viet­nam War, marked Veterans Day with his wife. He hopes more Americans will come to understand the importance of the holiday.

“The American people really don’t know what it’s all about,” he said.

In North Augusta, Fort Gor­don’s garrison commander, Col. Robert Barker, challenged residents to
pay tribute to military veterans by helping them find jobs.

Barker, the keynote speaker at a ceremony held by American Legion Post 71, said veterans learn leadership skills and a work ethic that lasts long after they shed their uniform.

“How do we make a difference in the lives of men and women who made such a difference in ours?” Barker said. “Encourage businesses to hire veterans and military family members. Soldiers bring exceptional training and experience to our civilian jobs.”

The U.S. government has improved programs to help veterans move from service to the workforce, but businesses also must do their part, Barker said.

The ceremony at Wade Hamp­ton Park included a singing of the national anthem by country-gospel music performer Flo Carter and a reading of the names of deceased service members from the area. Several veterans’ organizations laid wreaths in honor of the wars they fought.

“We honor and remember our nation’s men and women who made a personal commitment to support and defend our constitution and Amer­i­can way of life,” said Jerry Morin, Post 71’s commander.

SUMMIT ON CARE

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, the Augusta Warrior Project and the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon will play host to a daylong summit Nov. 20 on caring for returning veterans.

The event includes panel discussions on topics related to the transition to civilian life, such as education, employment and health. It begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Kroc Center in Augusta. Call (706) 434-1742 to register.

– From staff reports

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