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Honoring service, sacrifice: Veterans Day ceremony held at War Memorial
Veterans Day 2017
The annual Veterans Day ceremony was held Friday at the Veterans War Memorial in downtown Cumming. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

Former military service members from Forsyth County and across the nation were honored this week for Veterans Day.

Locally, the city of Cumming’s Veterans War Memorial played host Friday to the annual Veterans Day ceremony, organized this year by American Legion Post 307 in conjunction with VFW Post 9143, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1030 and the Forsyth County Patriot’s Alliance.

“There’s always a great turnout,” said American Legion Post 307 Commander Frank Singleton. “The kids are here, the Flash of Crimson [band] always does a super job, so it was fantastic, and it is always gratifying as a veteran, to think, ‘I wonder if anyone remembers the sacrifices of these guys.’ 

Added Singleton, referring to some in attendance: “I saw guys with prosthetic legs and missing limbs; they obviously served and sacrificed quite a bit in their service.” 

The ceremony featured a 21-gun salute, “Taps” and remarks from local veterans, officials and veteran groups.

Veterans Day
Fourth-grader Emma Waddell, of Cumming Christian Co-op and American Heritage Girls Troop 1331, gives an American flag to Navy veteran Charles Beatenbough during the event. - photo by Kelly Whitmire
The keynote speaker was retired Army Col. Larry Mrozinski, a recipient of The Legion Of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Army Commendation and Achievement medals.

The Forsyth Central High School Flash of Crimson Band, Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth Chorus and Cumming Christian Co-op singers performed patriotic tunes, and high school students from Cumming Christian Co-op read passages from the Declaration of Independence.

The crowd was filled with local veterans and their families, along with some newcomers like Roger Ware, an Air Force veteran. Ware said he served “23 years, nine months and 17 days” from 1964 to 1986 and, despite living in Atlanta, had never visited Cumming.

That changed when he saw online the event would be happening on Friday. 

“It’s my first time here, and I’m definitely going to be back; no doubt in my mind,” Ware said. 

Ware said he served in Vietnam and was especially moved by the Playing of “Taps” near the end of the ceremony.

“The only thing that gets me is when they play ‘Taps,’” he said. “When I was in Vietnam, we lost five crews, so the 58,742 names on the Vietnam Wall, I know 42 of them personally and, in fact, there’s one crew that’s still missing in action. So, when they play ‘Taps,’ that’s very near and dear to my heart.”

After the Veterans Day ceremony, a smaller ceremony was hosted to recognize Cumming’s status as a Purple Heart City, a sign of support for veterans.

“Last year, the mayor’s office and the Cumming City Council opted to make Cumming a Purple Heart City, which really is a very prestigious designation that denotes the community’s service and sacrifice to veterans,” Singleton said. 

Singleton said new signs will be coming up in the city to show the designation.

“We appreciate the support and we appreciate the thanks of the community,” he said. “Mostly, we just appreciate being Americans, and we know everybody here does too.”