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Cumming salutes veterans

Ceremony honors those who answered call

POSTED: November 10, 2012 12:21 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Students in the Forsyth Christian Home Educators Co-Op sing a patriotic song during a Veterans Day ceremony Friday at the Cumming Veterans War Memorial.

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A sea of red, white and blue filled the grounds by the Cumming Veterans War Memorial on Friday morning as city leaders, veterans and school groups joined forces to honor U.S. service personnel.

“By virtue of the veterans that give us the freedom, we’re able to stand here and do what we do,” Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt told the crowd of about 500.

“Not enough can be said of our military and the crucial role it plays in the safety and freedom of our country.”

Keynote speaker U.S. Army Gen. John W. Hendrix, who retired in 2002 with 36 years of active duty as an infantry officer, reminded attendees that veterans are human beings.

“When we talk about veterans, we’re not talking about some mystical figures off the pages of history books, and sometimes I think we make that mistake,” he said.

“Our veterans were human beings, just like you and just like me. They lived, they had jobs, they had families, they had children, they hurt, they had all the real-life problems that you and I have.

“They were not people who were superhuman, but they believed in the importance of freedom and opportunities, and they were willing to lay their lives down for it.”

Hendrix also thanked all of his fellow veterans, noting that it didn’t matter whether they served in times of war or peace.

“They say that for a veteran, the worst causality is to be forgotten,” he said. “And let me tell you that you’re not forgotten.

“What you did that sets you apart is that you answered the call, you did your part, you stepped forward, you went where our nation sent you to defend our way of life, our freedoms and our values.

“And it doesn’t matter whether you were shot at or not … for those of you who weren’t shot at, you stood on the line ready to go. And we knew that and our enemies knew that, the whole world knew that, and because of that often times you enabled us to evade a war that might have been.”

The ceremony also included several patriotic songs performed by students in the Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth and Forsyth Christian Home Educators Co-Op.

Reid Jefferson, an essay winner in the organization, read his piece about his grandfather’s service in the Navy, and members of the American Legion and VFW auxiliary groups presented a floral arrangement in memory of fallen soldiers.

Also participating in the event were members of the Chestatee River Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Forsyth Central High School Flash of Crimson band and the North Forsyth High School Marine Corps JROTC.

A 21-gun salute and taps were presented by the Forsyth County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office Joint Honor Guard Rifle Team.

Gravitt encouraged everyone in attendance to continue to respect and honor veterans.

“It’s my sincerest hope that our community will always remember how we came to live in the sweet land of liberty and that we’ll teach our children and our grandchildren the principles of our nation and what it was built upon and live by them  by example,” he said.

Earlier in the ceremony, Hendrix’s speech had been interrupted for a short time when a Boy Scout, who was a participant, passed out and fell down several steps on the memorial.

The ceremony was paused for about 20 minutes as emergency workers came to check the boy out. He suffered some abrasions, but had regained consciousness and seemed to be fine when taken to the hospital.

 

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