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Veterans honored at ceremony in Cumming
VeteransDay2
Veterans of several different wars and military branches attended the ceremony Tuesday at the Veterans War Memorial in Cumming. - photo by Micah Green

CUMMING — It’s the American flag he never gets tired of seeing.

And there were more of those red, white and blue flags than there were fall-colored leaves on the ground Tuesday at the Veterans War Memorial in Cumming.

Veterans Day is a sad day, said Georgia Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Thomas Golden, because we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But sad in a good way because he still sees those flags waving. And he’s been to places where he wasn’t allowed to fly one.

In honor and tradition of Veterans Day, the city of Cumming held its annual ceremony to commemorate every veteran of every branch in the U.S. military.

“We must remember them,” Golden said. “We must appreciate them.”

He said in his keynote address that he appreciated seeing the North Forsyth High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC present the flag because it means “there’s still young men and women who want to participate” in the “most respected armed force in the world, even today.”

More young honored the old when Forsyth Central High School’s Flash of Crimson Band played “Armed Forces Medley” and veterans took turns standing to applause when their branch was played.

They stood even if they had to be held up.

Younger participants in the Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth and the Forsyth Christian Home Educators Co-op sang “America the Beautiful” and “Hero in this Place” for the audience.

The co-op prepared for six weeks, said Christine Torre. They have been participating in the ceremony for 10 years.

“It’s a song of thanks,” she said, “for the sacrifice they’ve made for us.”

The kids made more than 100 cards that they personally passed out to veterans after the ceremony.

Tom Senior, a Marine Corps infantry captain who served in Vietnam, thanked each one when they handed him a card.

Senior said he moved to Cumming three years ago. He has attended the ceremony every year since.

“We never got that type of fandom [when we were serving], especially us from [the] Vietnam [War],” Senior said. “It really hits the heart strings.”

Chris Melcher, who is retired from the Air Force, attended the ceremony with his wife, Darcy, and two sons, Joshua, 9, and Caleb, 5. They moved to Cumming this year.

He said he hopes people take this day to look back and remember what veterans have done for the country, both those who are alive and those who have passed or not made it home.

“For not being around a military base, this was a really good turnout,” Darcy Melcher said, “and the city of Cumming did a great job.”

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt told the crowd, which stretched back to the Cumming Police Department’s parking lot, “mere gratitude cannot repay the debt” the country owes to veterans and their families. They took on an “enormous burden” when they enlisted or were drafted into service, he said, and they took it on our behalf.

“Their commitment is the same, regardless of the outcome,” Gravitt said. “Today is set aside to recognize our veterans, but they should be recognized every day.”