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Veteran challenges others to ‘find opportunities’

POSTED: November 12, 2013 1:07 a.m.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Scott Ballard speaks at Lakewood Baptist Church during the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 2013 Veterans Day program.

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A retired Marine encouraged veterans Monday to “find opportunities” in their communities, places of worship and other organizations to continue to serve.

“You once answered the call and your nation is forever grateful, but don’t stop now just because you’re no longer wearing a uniform,” said retired Lt. Col. Scott Ballard, speaking at the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville.

“There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways in which you can continue to serve your fellow man,” Ballard said, addressing a large group of veterans, public officials, family members and others.

“Do it today, do it for life,” he said.

Ballard recalled an experience serving in Fallujah during the Iraq War when he was speaking to a battle-worn Marine. He asked him how we was doing.

“Outstanding, couldn’t be better,” the Marine said.

“How so?” Ballard asked.

“You know, sir, most Americans are only ever afforded the opportunity to read history, but we’ve been given the opportunity to make it,” the Marine replied.

Ballard said the Marine’s response still resonates with him.

Several words are associated with military service, including loyalty, dedication, integrity, commitment and sacrifice, he said.

But “opportunity ... has shaped who I am personally and professionally and likely shaped all those who have come before me and those yet to come,” Ballard said.

Ballard’s speech was part of a program that featured patriotic music from the Chestatee High School Band and Maranatha Christian Academy students, a 21-gun salute and taps presented by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Representatives of area veterans groups laid wreaths on the stage during the program, and a ceremony was held to remember troops considered still missing in action.

Ron Kellner, post commander, also paid homage to those on the homefront, honoring military loved ones in the audience.

“We don’t get that chance very often to recognize those people who sacrifice (as well),” he said.


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