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Veterans honored at Emma Kelly Theater
Program remembered the fallen, celebrated the living
111108 VETERANS DAY 01
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Emotion — pride, patriotism and fond memories of veterans who have passed — filled the Emma Kelly Theater Tuesday as citizens honored all veterans of all wars during a moving Veterans day celebration.
    The day honors all veterans, including the living, who served the country during all wars. The program was preceded by a performance of patriotic selections by the First Four Quarter, directed by Bill Cohen.
    Coordinated by Cpl. Dan Foglio of American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90, the program began at 11 a.m., with Post 90 Commander Skip Campbell conducting the opening ceremony, followed by an opening prayer by  Post 90 Chaplain Charlie Williams.
    Williams prayed for veterans, about conditions and issues concerning veteran’s hospitals, and organizations and families of veterans and for those troops currently fighting wars.
    After a Pledge of Allegiance led by Campbell and a rendition of the national anthem by Nicholas Flott, Foglio welcomed the group, and introduced a number of local veterans who offered salutes to veterans of each war.
    Each speaker shared memories of serving in their respective tours of duty.
    Sgt. Larry Walton honored Merchant Marines veterans serving during various wars., followed by  Maj. Burt Higgins, who shared memories of and honored veterans who fought during the World War III in the European Theater.
    Maj. Joe Neville spoke of his experiences, and recognized other veterans of the World War III Pacific Theater. Veterans of the Korean War were honored by Wing Commander Cliff Holt.
    “The Korean was, often called the Forgotten War,” he said. “I’’m afraid it was not forgotten by those who were there. They came from different parts of the country, for different reasons, but they lived together, fought together and died together.”
    Master Sgt. Joe Bill Brannon gave an emotional account of how soldiers returning home were received by citizens after the Vietnam war, and recognized veterans of that conflict.
    “The 1960s was a time of dissension and turmoil in our country,” he said. Brannon spoke of how soldiers returning from the war “were met with angry protesters calling us names ... baby killers ... mercenaries. ...
    “It was a very bad time to be in  the service,” he said. “It has only been in  the last decade America has been willing to recognize ... and remember ... that the American men and women (in military service) don’t make policy.”
    Then Foglio honored veterans of World War I, as well as those of  the Iraq and Persian Gulf wars.
    “A veteran is someone who at one point wrote a check payable to the United States of America, up to and including your life,” he said.
    Foglio also mentioned a Veterans Day dinner held at Teapotter’s Cafe on Ga. 67 near Interstate 16, where free lunch was offered to veterans Tuesday afternoon.
    Barry Turner, president of the Statesboro Arts Council, introduced Bulloch County state court Judge Gary Mikell who gave the keynote speech. Mikell shared fond memories of his uncle Bill and his own service in the United States Air Force.
    Both his parents were veterans and met during their service, he said. He also noted there are three holidays honoring veterans; Armed Forces Day, in May, recognizing those currently serving; Memorial day, the fourth Monday in May, honoring fallen veterans; and Veterans Day, Nov. 11, “thanking all of those who served honorably,” whether they are deceased, retired or still serving.
    The day is “a chance to remember veterans” and recognize those who “carry their experiences into family lives and careers, he said. “Veterans Day is about celebrating high ideals ... and is about the fact we have veterans living around us is evidence of those ideals.”
    In speaking of his uncle and how he shared his war experiences with his family, Mikell recalled a particular walk in the desert with his uncle, where he lived in New Mexico, and said “In a few minutes Uncle Bill showed me how to manufacture joy out of nothing.”
    The ceremony closed with a prayer led by Williams, and a rendition of “God Bless America,” in which the crowd was encouraged to participate.
    The observance was hosted by the  American Legion Dexter Allen Post 90 and Averitt Center for the Arts.

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