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Veterans Day speaker urges people to remember service members’ sacrifice

Veterans Day speaker urges people  to remember service members’ sacrifice

Veterans Day speaker urges people to remember service members’ sacrifice

Retired U.S. Army Maj. and Brooklet C...


On a day reserved to celebrate America's veterans, retired U.S. Army Major Tom McElwee urged everyone to remember what servicemen and women fight for, and why they do.

McElwee was the keynote speaker Monday during the annual Veterans Day Community Observance Program, hosted by the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 and the Averitt Center for the Arts.

"We're here to honor veterans. Veterans who have fought, suffered, sacrificed and even died to win and preserve our freedom; Americans who have fought for freedom from 1775 on Lexington Green to those who are serving today; and veterans who have sacrificed so much, for so many. We salute all veterans on this day," he said, before a crowd of more than 100 people gathered in the Averitt Center's Emma Kelly Theater. "Every time there were forces that threatened to destroy our freedom and the universal, timeless truths upon which this country was founded, great Americans stepped forward to put on the uniform and defend our nation. Never forget what our veterans have done for us, and never forget what makes veterans and all Americans unique in this world."

McElwee first enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War and went on to serve in Korea and in the Middle East, before and during Operation Desert Storm.

A civil affairs officer during the Gulf War, he later became a military science professor at Georgia Southern University and the longtime Junior ROTC Director at Southeast Bulloch High School. Last week, he was elected a Brooklet city councilman

Monday, McElwee posed and answered the question: "What makes veterans, and all of us, American?"

He said the answer doesn't have anything to do with one's place of birth — a theory most of his freshman students expressed when challenged with the question.

"Americans are unique in this world, and Americans are from every corner of the world. They're people who share what all of us, and all Americans, have in common: a belief in freedom — individual freedom for all mankind. It is what defines us," McElwee said. "America is where anyone can share in the beliefs found in our Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. The belief that an individual and his/her freedom will be protected by government, not denied by government or king, is the guiding principle of our republic. The belief in these fundamental principles is what makes a person — any person, from any part of the world — an American. Here, the individual can decide how to live a life."

McElwee called the United States' founding principles based on freedom "our common theme, our common nature and our common soul," and said people should never discard the philosophies laid out by founding fathers at the birth of the nation.

On hand for Monday's program were veterans of virtually every branch of armed forces. Patriotic music, performed by the Averitt Center's Statesboro Youth Chorale, was featured, as were short speeches by select other military veterans.

Several speakers took an opportunity to thank former and current military members for their years of service.
"The brave men and women who serve and protect the United States come from all walks of life. They are parents, children, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Military service is a noble calling and a legacy to be proud of," Statesboro Mayor Joe Brannen said. "Today, on Veterans Day, we all want to say ‘thank you' for your courage, your leadership, and your constant focus on protecting the freedom we enjoy."

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

 

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