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21-gun salute caps veterans ceremony
Amercian Legion post puts on event at Georgia Mountains Center
The State Color Guard Sons of the Revolution lead the Veterans Day parade Wednesday through downtown Dawsonville. - photo by Tom Reed

Schoolchildren show respect for veterans

Our Heroes: Special multimedia report honoring our veterans

Area veterans were honored Wednesday at the Georgia Mountains Center with music, inspirational talks and ceremonies.

American Legion and Sons of the American Legion, Paul Bolding Post 7, in Gainesville sponsored the 90-minute program, which ended with a 21-gun salute by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the playing of "Taps."

Patriotic songs and speeches filled the event, which was marked by a couple of mentions about Fort Hood, Texas, where an Army psychiatrist went on a shooting rampage last week, killing 13 people.

Regardless of how "the liberal press spins it, I know what it was and you veterans know what it was," said the emcee, Joe Sartain Jr., a past commander of Post 7. "It wasn’t a criminal act. It was an act of terror."

Loud applause followed his comments.

David McClure, Post 7’s chaplain, also mentioned Fort Hood as part of the invocation.

Radio personality Martha Zoller, the keynote speaker, talked about her father, a World War II veteran and prisoner of war.

In paying homage to the armed services, she said, "Remember, this is a volunteer military and that most of us couldn’t qualify to get in. We are not scraping the bottom of the barrel in our military and we shouldn’t ever think that we are.

"These are the best and the brightest we have to offer here in the United States."

Other highlights including children from Maranatha Christian Academy in Oakwood shouting "Thank you, veterans" while holding high two fingers in a "V" gesture, as in "V for veterans."

The group also lined the stage and sang "This Land is Your Land" and "God Bless America" to guitar accompaniment.

"If you love your country, it doesn’t get any better than that," Sartain said after the children sang.

Also, Chestatee High School’s band performed patriotic songs, as well anthems of each of the armed services. Riverside Military Academy and East Hall High School’s Navy JROTC also participated in the program.

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic presented a U.S. flag to Jim Ash, retired major with the department.

"Jim has been successful at everything that he’s ever done," Cronic said. "Right now ... he’s battling an illness. He needs all our prayers and our support."

Dawsonville parade draws patriotic crowd

DAWSONVILLE — Residents braved wet weather Wednesday afternoon as they lined the streets of downtown Dawsonville to show support for veterans.

The 5th annual Veterans Day Celebration began as a parade around the square at 3 p.m. Those in attendance followed organizers into the Dawson County Middle School gymnasium for a 4 p.m. ceremony was held to honor those who have served and continue to serve in the military.

Master of ceremonies Capt. Larry Freeland, spoke to a crowd of several hundred at the ceremony.

"Today, we celebrate these veterans who fought and sacrificed so much," Freeland said. "They did this in order to secure peace for our nation and others."

Ceremonies included a moment of silence for the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas, as well as a 21-gun salute by the Veterans Alliance.

Preceding the ceremonies, hundreds cheered in the streets as veterans and current soldiers rode by waving. A medevac helicopter also flew over the crowd.

Residents John and Tanya Self of Dawsonville waved to their grandson, Kyle Davis, who rode with a group of Cub Scouts in the parade.

"Dawson County has American values, and we’re proud of it," John Self said. "The American flag is more than just symbolism here."

The Dawsonville event is one of only 41 in the country recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Day Official Site. The state’s only other is in Atlanta.

Regional staff reporter Frank Reddy contributed to this report