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Veterans Day: Local residents pause to honor all who protect freedom
Events in Gainesville mark holiday with patriotic ceremonies
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Craig German, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter 772, places a wreath at the front of the sanctuary during a Veterans Day event at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

Residents were in quiet reserve Saturday taking time to honor and remember the nation’s veterans.

Veterans Day in Gainesville began with a wreath ceremony at Rock Creek Veterans Park, followed by a program at Lakewood Baptist Church.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 772 held the morning ceremony, where they displayed a wreath at the Vietnam War and Korean War monuments in the park.

“Setting up the wreath is an act of honoring those who have served and especially those who are no longer with us, whether they died during the time of conflict or at home,” said Craig German, VVA president. “We are remembering everybody, whether they are still with us and here to remember, or have gone before us.”

Hall County Superior Court Jason Deal was the featured speaker.

“Today we honor all of those that have worn or are wearing the uniforms of our armed services,” Deal said. “We honor our veterans because they put they own interests aside in the interest of our country.”

Deal said every veteran chooses to take an oath in order to join the military.

“When a person stands to take that oath, they give up a lot of the freedoms that they are agreeing to protect for others,” Deal said. “Today we honor our veterans because they willingly stand to take the oath knowing that they may be called upon to lose everything in order to protect our Constitution, our country and our way of life.”

Deal noted that veterans have stood on the “battlefields of Europe, in the frozen reservoirs, on the decks of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, in fire basins in the jungles of Vietnam, in the desert sands of Kuwait, on the streets of Baghdad, the mountain passes of Afghanistan, on tarmacs and airbases all over the world” in order to protect the U.S. from enemies.

“Let’s not forget that our veterans not only serve overseas, but they serve here at home. Today we honor veterans because they have lived up to their oath to bare truth, faith and allegiance to our constitution, to support and defend it,” Deal said.

“Today we stand up for our veterans because they stood up to take an oath to protect us and our freedom, and they stand here among us today.”

Lakewood Baptist Church was the setting for the annual Veterans Day Program sponsored by the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7.

The event started at 11 a.m., customarily the time when Veterans Day is observed in official ceremonies. The day is rooted in the signing of the armistice that ended World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

The featured speaker, retired Army Col. Larkin Vance, served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He also served in different stints in the Navy, Air Force and Army, and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored to be here today to honor the veterans, those who did not come back and those who are wounded,” Vance said. “Not only do I belong to the American Legion Post 7, but also I am a member of North Georgia Veterans Association The Wounded Warriors.”

Vance spoke on his time and dedication to service.

“Remember the veterans because we definitely remember each other,” Vance said.

The American Legion event also featured the posting of colors by the Hall County Honor Guard, patriotic performances by the Chestatee High School Band, Maranatha Christian Academy and a 21-gun salute by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.

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