As keynote speaker for the Veterans Day observance Monday in the Emma Kelly Theater, Statesboro Municipal Court Judge Keith Barber will talk about a very distinguished veteran, his father, Maj. Harold L. Barber, U.S. Army, retired.
Maj. Barber, who is now 93, healthy, and living in Newnan, is a 2006 inductee of the U.S. Army Ranger Association's Ranger Hall of Fame. After serving in both the Marines Corps and the Army, the elder Barber holds the rare distinction of having risen from private in one branch of service to the rank of major in another. A combat veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, he is a recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
As always, the Veterans Day observance, with music beginning at 10:30 a.m. and the speaking and ceremonial program at 11 a.m., is free and open to the public. It is hosted by American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90, with the Averitt Center for the Arts, which operates the Emma Kelly Theater, and Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home as major sponsors.
Longtime Memorial Day and Veterans Day observance organizer Dan Foglio moved out of state in April but had speakers lined up for a couple of years in advance.
"I'm truly humbled about it," said Keith Barber. "Dan asked me to touch on my father's service. He's a retired officer, and he's in the Ranger Hall of Fame, and I'm very proud of all our veterans."
Judge in Statesboro's city court since 2010, Barber graduated from Georgia State University and obtained his law degree from Atlanta Law School. He had worked in law enforcement, for Fulton County's sheriff's and marshals departments, before going to law school. He has been in private practice since becoming a lawyer in October 1982.
Before becoming judge, he served as the prosecutor in the Municipal Court for several years under Judge J. Lane Johnston.
Born in Japan
Owing to his father's military career, the younger Barber was born in Japan, at the U.S. Army Base in Fukuoa. He and his wife, Patti, have been married 44 years and have identical twin daughters, Meghan and Caitlin, now 24.
He also served four years in the Army, 1973-77.
But when asked to submit a portrait of himself as the planned speaker, he sent the newspaper a photo of his father instead, along with his Ranger Hall of Fame biography. The elder Barber was just 15 when he volunteered for the Marines, his son said.
After serving with distinction in the Pacific in World War II, he joined the Army as a corporal and volunteered to train as a Ranger at Fort Benning before the Korean War, where he received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.
Other veterans, including Sheriff Noel Brown, Bobby Babot and Marvin Grimm are also slated to have briefer speaking parts in Monday's program. So is Martha Wells from the Archibald Bulloch Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR. Bob Marsh, a Navy veteran and now finance officer of American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90, is lead organizer and master of ceremonies.
Doughnuts from DAR
This year, the Archibald Bulloch Chapter of the DAR will serve coffee and doughnuts in the Averitt Center Exhibition Room to any veterans who arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Then, in the Emma Kelly Theater, Jack Kindig and his Music Messengers will provide the 10:30 musical prelude.
But the main program will begin at 11 a.m., which Marsh notes is the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," commemorating the armistice that ended World War I. The Bulloch County Sheriff's Honor Guard will post the colors.
Other sponsors include Chick-fil-A and Vandy's, which provide some free meals to veterans.