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Vets honored across Hall County
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World War II veteran Ron Gallaway bows his head during the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the American Legion Veterans Day program Monday at Lakewood Baptist Church. - photo by Tom Reed

Watch a slideshow of Veterans Day events around Hall County

Veterans were honored in schools, churches and in a formal ceremony Monday as Veterans Day, falling on a Sunday, stretched out to a long weekend of recognizing men and women who are serving or who have served in the military.

“This is special day and a special commemoration,” said Don Landrum, guest speaker at the Paul E. Bolding American Legion Post 7’s annual ceremony Monday at Lakewood Baptist Church.

“All people throughout the history of our great country have served ... during times of combat or peace time, all recognized today in a special way because they’re all special people.”

Landrum is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant first class. He has a Bronze Star and, as a civilian serving in the U.S. Department of Defense, he won the meritorious civilian service award, the second highest medal provided to civilian federal employees.

He described a U.S. veteran as a “soldier, savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.”

Landrum closed by saying, “It is only fitting we thank the soldiers of yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He then snapped to attention and delivered a firm salute.

The ceremony also featured a placing of wreaths at the altar and Post 7 past commander Larry J. Emmett’s tearful remembrance of prisoners of war and those missing in action.

And Col. Tony Carter of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office read a letter from Sheriff Steve Cronic, who is helping coordinate a sheriffs’ conference this week.

“When I get discouraged about the direction our country seems to be headed, it is you guys that remind me about the things that made America great and give me hope for the future,” Cronic wrote. “God bless you for everything you’ve done for our country.”

Elsewhere, Gainesville State College participated in the national Remembrance Day National Roll Call, with faculty, staff, students and community volunteers reading aloud the names of the more than 6,600 casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event began at 7:40 a.m. and lasted through the day, with a nationwide minute of silence at 2 p.m.

On Monday afternoon, U.S. Army veteran and Gov. Nathan Deal stopped by Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy as the guest speaker of the school’s Veterans Day celebration.

“Go up to someone in uniform and say ‘thank you,’” Deal told the students. “They have given time out of their life to protect your freedom. Just say ‘thank you.’”

Zach Warwick, a fifth-grader at Wauka Mountain, helped recognize his grandfather, Glenn Abernathy, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, during the event.

“I think it’s really cool that we get to do this and my papa gets to come and my family gets to see him,” said Zach. “I get to see what he did, so it’s really cool to learn what he did in the Army and what kind of medals he got.”

Abernathy said he hopes the message will reach the children who can carry the respect for veterans on to future generations.

“I think it’s very important to understand that they’re our future and if we don’t share with them some of the things of the past, we are doomed to failure,” said Abernathy.

It also means a lot for veterans to have the respect and admiration of the students.

“When I come out and do things like this and kids come up to me and ask me questions and when we do this ‘Walk of Honor,’ you’ll see veterans cry,” said Abernathy. “It just means so much for people to care about what you did.”

Reporter Lee Johnson contributed to this report.

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