Tears fell as people became emotional Thursday during the 2010 Veteran's Day Community Service program, sponsored by the American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90. The program was held at Emma Kelley Theater in the Averitt Center for the Arts. The program included patriotic music, words of honor and appreciation for veterans, and memories from those who served.
Lt. Col. Robert Dannacher, USAF Ret., was keynote speaker, and shared memories of his wartime experiences. He spoke about serving on secret missions in Laos, and how no one was allowed to talk about those missions. The activity was kept so quiet, a fellow soldier serving during those times was not honored for his service until 42 years later, when he was finally recognized for his bravery, he said.
"It was an interesting career," he said. "I never thought I would work with such a dedicated group of men. We worked 24-7."
Dannacher also spoke about dropping ammunition and food to Army soldiers and how the Army colonel kissed him on his cheek for saving the soldier's lives.
He also spoke of honoring all veterans, and touched on the disrespect Vietnam veterans received when they returned home after that war. Seeing the way today's veterans are welcomed and honored upon their return makes him feel good, he said.
"I salute you," he said to all veterans. "You have a strong heritage... we're proud of what you did and w=of heat you do. When Uncle Sam calls, we do what we have to."
The program began at 11, preceded by patriotic music performed by Bill Coen. As he sang "God Bless the USA," many were seen wiping away tears as they sang along. Coen called the song "almost our second National Anthem."
Ray Hendrix, of Dexter Allen Post 90 of the American Legion, welcomed guests and said the annual Veteran's Day program has been touted as the number one Veteran's day program in Georgia. "I think there's a great patriotic feeling in our country today and I hope it will continue," he said.
American Legion Post 90 Commander Dan Foglio remembered Dr. Kemp Mabry, a founding father with the program, during the ceremony. "If it weren't for Kemp Mabry, we wouldn't be here today," he said.
During the program, an unexpected interruption led to an honor for Roxie Remley, a local artist who served during World War II as a WAC.
Rev. Donald K, Logan presented Remley with an award from the "Fruits of our Roots Honor Society," one of only four that has been awarded, he said. Remley received a standing ovation as she accepted the award.
Remley also spoke about her memories of World War II.
"Perhaps the most awesome memory was the beginning of D-Day," she said. "Shortly after midnight, June 6, 1944 ... we cheered, and we shed tears. At the end of that day, over 6,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives."
After the program ended, Foglio gave veterans a ticket for a free meal at RJ's Steaks and Seafood as a token of appreciation.
The program was also supported by the Averitt center for the Arts, Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home and Chic-Fil-A of Statesboro.
Holli Deal Bragg maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.