Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 1999
By JAINE TREADWELL
"Thank you for serving our country."
The voice was soft and low but so sincere.
Vietnam veteran Freddie Turner turned back to shake the young boy’s hand. "Thank you, son. Thank you."
Not often do veterans hear words of thanks for their service to their country and especially from young people.
"It meant a lot – an awful lot," Turner said.
Nathan Kelly was in Troy visiting his grandfather Durwood Kelly and he was moved by the Veterans Day program at Bicentennial Park to thank those who fought for the freedoms he enjoys.
"They said to thank our veterans and that’s what I wanted to do," Nathan said.
The bleachers at Bicentennial Park were filled with those who had come, with thankful hearts, to honor and remember the veterans of all wars.
Mayor Jimmy Lunsford told the gathering he had been at the park with Boy Scout Troop 41 in the early morning hours and he was impressed with the patriotism the scouts displayed and the reverence they showed in handling the flag of the United States.
"They were very cautious not to let the flag touch the ground," Lunsford said, adding that seeing the boys moving about, almost reverently, with the American flag was a touching scene.
"We must bring all youths, all people, back to respecting the flag you fought to preserve," he told the veterans.
Dorothy Jinright, chaplain American Legion Auxiliary 70, and Pugh Davis, American Legion Post 70, placed the memorial wreath in remembrance of all veterans of America’s wars as taps was played.
Col. John Schmidt (ret. USMC) was the featured speaker and he told the veterans that, because of their sacrifices, this nation can look forward to the future.
Schmidt called all veterans, "extraordinary men and women who have done an extraordinary thing."
Soldiers depart as ordinary men and women but come home changed, Schmidt said.
"We are a brotherhood that rises about race, creed, color or social status. In foxholes and on the front lines, we have learned to depend on each other. We served so as not to let our buddies down."
Schmidt challenged the audience to keep alive the virtues handed down by those who have fought for and defended freedom – the virtues of honor, courage and commitment.
"We are now at the crossroads of the millennium," he said. "We stand guardians of the past and torchbearers for the future. May God bless America."
Nov. 11, 1999, 10 PM