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A salute to service

Hundreds crowd Emma Kelly Theater to honor sacrifice of men, women

The air at Statesboro’s Emma Kelly Theater in the Averitt Center for the Arts was charged with emotion Saturday as citizens enjoyed a community observance of Veterans Day. 

    Dr. Michael Braz and the Statesboro Youth Chorale, along with associate director Sarah Hancock, provided an assortment of patriotic songs before American Legion Chaplain Charlie Williams led the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance.
    Averitt Center Director Tim Chapman welcomed a packed house before Dr. Jack Proctor, program co-chair, offered a salute to veterans, calling them to stand by military branch.
    He praised veterans who have served and are still serving in the numerous wars since World War I.
    “At this very moment, some are fighting and dying so that we can remain a free nation,” he said.
    The speaker for the event was Dr. Tom McMullen, Major, USAF Ret’d.
    McMullen spoke of numerous wars, stating that all served as an example of one lesson learned: “The world learned that you don’t dialogue with people like Hitler and Stalin.”
    As he spoke of each war, starting with World War I, McMullen displayed medals of honor awarded in each war. He also recognized veterans, but by the war in which they served, not by military branch.
    He said American needs to continue to fight the types of enemy who hate America because of her freedoms. “As with Hitler and Stalin, there is no appeasing ... them. Therefore, we must not cut and run.”
    McMullen reminded the veterans of the strength behind their service.
    “I have thanked all of you who served, but ... your families have served also,” he said.
    Afterward, a tribute filled with images of war times, accompanied by a poem, filled a screen onstage. Veterans, families and others watched in a silence thick with unspoken emotion as the images changed, reflecting various times of war and scenes from every military aspect.
    Veterans of World War II were honored afterward and presented with certificates of appreciation by Burton Higgins, representing the Scottish Heritage Society of Southeast Georgia, who along with the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 and the Averitt Center for the Arts, sponsored the event.

    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.      

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