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City set to celebrate veterans
Averitt will host annual ceremony Monday
111111 VETERANS DAY 03
In this November 2011 file photo, World War II veteran Burt "Hawkey" Higgins, 92, recalls some of his experiences while delivering the keynote address during the Veterans Day observance at the Emma Kelly Theater in the Averitt Center for the Arts. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

2012 Veterans Day Observance
Where: Averitt Center for the Arts, downtown Statesboro
Cost: Free
Schedule:
    Patriotic Music, 10:30 a.m.
    Main program, 11 a.m.
Speakers:
    Jeffery Blankenship, U.S. Marine Corps gunnery
    sergeant
    Jared R. Guidry, 2nd Class petty officer
    Tom Armstrong, Sons of the American Revolution
    Tom M. McElwee, veteran
    Joe Bill Brannon, retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant
  Adjournment: Group performance of “God Bless America”

While Memorial Day in America is a time for solemn commemoration, Veterans Day is an occasion to celebrate.
    So Dan Foglio, the past commander for the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 will celebrate.
The American Legion’s Statesboro post will continue its tradition, more than a decade old, of honoring veterans and their families Monday, with a 2012 Veterans Day Community Observance Program.
    The annual event will kick off at 10:30 a.m. inside the Emma Kelly Theater at the Averitt Center for the Arts.
    “This is a very patriotic day and service,” said Foglio, who will host opening ceremonies. “We do this to honor the guys and girls who risk, or have risked, their lives in various conflicts all over the world. The American Legion began in 1919 and has observed this day ever since.”
    According to Foglio, the affair will begin with about 20 minutes of patriotic tunes performed by Julian and June Ward, and, at 11 a.m., feature speeches and salutes from several military veterans.
    “We will have a sergeant from the Air Force, gunnery sergeant from the Marine Corps, a CPO from the Navy, and a disabled vet speak during the program,” Foglio said.
    The event is free to all and will present veterans with passes to several restaurants and retailers for discounts on products.
    Joe Bill Brannon, a former Air Force master sergeant and current director of the Statesboro Food Bank, is the keynote speaker for the 2012 program.
    Brannon, who served in Korea and Vietnam, said his address will focus on celebrating veterans more than just one day each year.
    “It is an honor to be asked to speak,” he said. “I am a veteran and I think that a lot of people, though many folks do honor veterans, do not know how to show their appreciation for veterans in ways other than attending programs like this one.
    “Too often these days, people don’t realize that we still have troops deployed or how many we have — or how many are coming back with their limbs missing,” Brannon added. “We need to celebrate them and take care of them. Of course, showing up at the Averitt Center is great, but there is more we can do as civilians.”
Brannon said electing pubic officials who support veterans, and simply telling veterans and their families that they are appreciated, can go a long way.
    Monday’s program will be held one day after the national recognition of Veterans Day. 
    Veterans Day is traditionally celebrated on Armistice Day, commemorating the symbolic end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. It is called Armistice Day to connote the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany, which took effect at 11 o'clock in the morning, hence the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month."
     In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

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

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