Veterans sat around tables Saturday inside the Cumming Parks and Recreation building on Pilgrim Mill Road — wives, children and at least one service dog beside them.
Smiling, they poked at their plates of barbecue as luncheon speakers made their way to the podium.
It was the scene of Ingram Funeral Home and Crematory’s annual veterans luncheon, an event that provides a free lunch to former service members and their families and recognizes the men and women who have served.
“In this community, in this area, amongst our families, there is so much going on to remind each one of you that you are not forgotten,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.
Held a week early on Nov. 4 — Veterans Day this year falls on a Saturday — the luncheon featured several prominent speakers, including Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt; Col. Dennis Brown, the county’s soon-to-be District 2 commissioner; and Capt. Wayne Kidd, who served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.
The message, overwhelmingly, was giving thanks to the veterans in the room.
“Can you imagine a United States where we didn’t have any of you veterans — [a place] where all of you weren’t here and didn’t answer the call?” Brown asked. “Every generation is met with a threat, and we’ve answered the call. It’s what we do. The War of 1812, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, a war to end slavery — those wars for freedom and democracy wouldn’t have happened without you, veterans. Who knows where we’d be and what kind of country we’d be.”
Kidd stressed families’ roles too, putting emphasis on the spouse’s children and parents who spend hours worrying about their deployed husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children.
“Nobody ever wants to go to war, they just don’t; it’s a no-win scenario,” he said. “But it really bugs me — in fact, a lot of things bug me — but what really bugs me is that we pay no attention to the spouses, the children and the parents of the folks going overseas. I was shot once, burned once, and I felt worse for my wife, because she had to go through all that worry.”
He added that Veterans Day is about giving thanks, from one veteran to another.