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Vets groups join together in family day at history center
Joshua Griffith hops in a World War II era Jeep on Sunday at the Veterans Day Celebration and Family Day at the Northeast Georgia History Center. - photo by Tom Reed

Veterans groups often do their own thing, focusing on just their work and mission.

But that wasn’t the case Sunday at the Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University.

Local members of the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Marine Corps League’s Upper Chattahoochee Detachment, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars mingled, with their tables and displays side by side.

“I think it’s very important for us to get all the organizations together, so members of the community can see what the veterans actually do for other veterans,” said Tom Taylor, post commander of VFW Post 8425 on Delta Drive.

The groups were participating in the Veterans Day Celebration and Family Day as part of the history center’s Family Sunday series.

The event also was held to mark Veterans Day on Wednesday, said one of the organizers, M. Scott Ballard, a volunteer at the history center.

“The way I look at it is these veterans all run in the same circles,” he said. “They all know each other. Many are members of multiple groups.”

The goal is, Ballard said, to hold the event twice a year — Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Sunday’s event was the first such gathering.

“I’m looking forward to improving on what we’re doing today,” Ballard said.

Families could stop by booths set up by the organizations and staffed largely by officers to get information or ask questions.

With a little digging, visitors could hear some fascinating stories about military service overseas. Several of the group’s officers served in conflicts, such as the Persian Gulf and Vietnam wars.

Ballard, for one, served in the Marines from 1985 to 2009, spending 2004-05 in Iraq.

“I was in Fallujah. I served as a civil affairs officer,” he said. “During combat operations and the few months following that, we re-established all the civil infrastructure — the water, sewer, food, shelter, governance, getting the city council back in place.”
Visitors could browse through pictures and look at models of military aircraft, as well as examine some of the World War II equipment belonging to Glen Kyle, managing director of the history center.

“Families and children are really the reason we are here — to carry on and present this information and appreciation for the past onto future generations,” said Kyle, a military historian.

David Griffith of Dahlonega brought his son, Joshua, 6, to the museum as part of a home-schooling field trip.

Griffith said he especially is interested in World War II and talked to his son about it on the ride to the history center.

But more than just seeing exhibits, Griffith said he was looking forward to “meeting veterans and having the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for their service.”