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Saying thanks to veterans
Veterans Day observance is Wednesday at Averitt
W Vet Day Program 2009
    Veterans will be honored and remembered Wednesday with a Veteran's Day program at the Averitt Center for the Arts Emma Kelly Theater.
    The keynote speaker for the event is retired Naval Commander Clifford L. Holt. Entertainment will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday by "Outrageous Joy," and the program begins at 11 a.m., said  American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 Commander Dan Foglio. The event is sponsored by both the Legion Dexter Allen Post and Averitt Center for the Arts.
    A Statesboro resident, Holt is married to Sue Holt and they have five children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He began his military career in 1954 when he was accepted as a Naval Aviation cadet for flight training, then was commissioned as a U.S. Navy Officer and designated a Naval Aviator in 1956.
    Holt flew Navy aircraft for 12 years active duty and 10 years active reserve, flying mostly in anti-submarine warfare squadrons, and had command of an anti-submarine squadron in Norfolk, Va,, flying the Grumman S-2D Tracker.
    Holt also served as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Fla.  After his active duty, Holt flew for United Airlines for over 25 years, and has owned several private aircraft, logging over 26,000 hours of flight time.
    Holt is an active member of St. Matthews Catholic Church and the Statesboro Kiwanis Club. He enjoys golf, woodworking and shooting with friends.
    Since opening its doors in 2004, the Emma Kelly Theater has been the home of the annual community observance of Veteran’s Day. The late Dr. Kemp Mabry saw an opportunity for a place to bring the community together for the annual observance of Veterans Day, said arts center director Tim Chapman.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this free service to our community,” Chapman said. “It’s part of our mission as a non-profit community arts agency, to be able to provide this kind of exposure to members of our community.”
    Veterans Day is traditionally celebrated on Armistice Day, commemorating the symbolic end of World War I on November 11, 1918. It is called Armistice Day to connote the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Rethondes, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning, hence the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."
    In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 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…"

Program outlined
     The opening prayer will be led by Chaplain Charlie Williams, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance by Master Sgt. Joe Bill Brannon. Ellen Murkison will then perform the National Anthem.
    One of the most moving segments of the program is the salute to veterans. Foglio will introduce representatives of various military branches, who will discuss their military service.
    Janie Staggs will acknowledge veterans of the Merchant Marines, as well as military"  Nurses,WAVES, SPARS, WACS and other medical personnel," he said.
    Maj. William J. Neville, U.S. Army Ret. , will represent veterans of World War II, Pacific Theater.  Burton Higgins, U. S. Army, will acknowledge veterans of World War II, European Theater.
    The Korean War will be represented by Walter Woodrow and Brannon will acknowledge Vietnam veterans. First Sgt. Bobby Babot, U.S. Army active duty, will represent veterans of the war in  Iraq, Foglio said.
     Carol Thompson, president of the Averitt Arts Center, is slated to welcome visitors. Susan Meikle, of the Archibald Bulloch chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, will also speak.
    Brent Tharp, director of Georgia Southern University's Museum, will introduce Commander Holt.
    After Holt's presentation is concluded, Foglio will present awards to various recipients. Williams will then offer a closing prayer, and before adjourning, everyone will sing " God Bless America," Foglio said.
    As a way of honoring veterans, two local restaurants will offer free meals for those who have served in the military during war.
     "Randy Nesmith of RJ's Steaks and Seafood has offered to treat all veterans at his restaurant," he said. "And Tea Potters Restaurant, located at Interstate 16 and Ga 67 , in the  old Huddle House building, has also offered to treat all veterans to a barbecue platter and all the trimmings, as they did last year."

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