Residents of the Vickery Lake subdivision in Cumming gathered outside of their clubhouse Wednesday morning to see the neighborhood’s new flagpole and veterans memorial monument and to honor veterans in the subdivision.
Gene Jablonski, a Vickery Lake resident and U.S. Air Force veteran, said their subdivision is unique in that 61 residents out of the 140 homes in the neighborhood are veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.
This was why Joblonski started to work with other residents three months ago to have a flag pole and veterans memorial monument put up in the area just outside of the subdivision’s clubhouse. The monument was finally placed in the neighborhood about a week ago with the date of this year’s Veterans Day engraved across its surface.
For Jablonski, the engraved monument serves as an honor for the veterans within the subdivision and a reminder of those who have lost their lives while serving the country.
Shortly after the monument was placed, Jabloski invited veterans, their neighbors, members of the Forsyth County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office and County Commissioner Todd Levent to the dedication ceremony to celebrate the new monument.
“I just felt in today’s environment with all of the negativity and divisiveness that’s going around that we really needed something [like this] to just bring everybody together,” Jablonski said.
During the ceremony, the FCSO honor guard presented the country’s colors as residents recited the pledge of allegiance and part of 8Up With Dixie, Jablonski’s Dixieland band, played the national anthem. Before moving on, the group continued with a prayer for the country’s veterans and first responders.
Larry Mohler, another resident and a veteran of the U.S. Army, gave the keynote speech during the ceremony, reflecting on all of those he remembers who served alongside him in the Army.
“When I was asked to give a dedication for this memorial, I cannot say I was excited about the opportunity, but this day always brings special meaning to me and to all of us,” Mohler said.
During his speech, Mohler recognized both his father and his uncle who served in the Army and Navy, respectively, and he reflected on his moments with his childhood friend who enlisted in the Army alongside him after school.
“After I received my draft notice to be called, he called our draft board to check his status and found out he would be drafted about a month later, so he volunteered to go on the same day I did,” Mohler said.
As he and his friend were ready to start their new lives in the Army, Mohler ended up being held back for about a month as a medical issue forced him to have an operation. After he was finally drafted, his friend was finishing up basic training and heading off to Officer Candidate School. He ended up being assigned to a unit in Korea shortly after.
Mohler continued on with basic training himself before heading to Advanced Individual Training in Louisiana. After that, he was moved into a reconnaissance platoon in the infantry division.
“I next saw my friend as a patient in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Colorado,” Mohler said. “He was suffering from aplastic anemia, a form of blood cancer. We were able to spend some time together until he lost his battle. He died at age 22.”
Each Veterans Day, Mohler said he is reminded of these moments and the other soldiers he served with at the time.
“We all served our country, and each of us has a different outcome,” Mohler said. “My hope is that the service to our country was rewarding for all who served.”
Mohler asked everyone for the final time that morning for those in the neighborhood to please remember those who have served the country and especially remember those that they have lost.
Before the end of the ceremony, event organizers read the names of each of the 61 veterans in Vickery Lake, taking a moment to honor each person’s service.
“It is an honor to dedicate this memorial for those who served their country in the military,” Mohler said.