Blue Ridge, Ga. – “On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns fell silent, we will remember.”
Nov. 11, 1918 marked the end of World War I. Armistice Day was created to remember those who fought in this great battle. World War I had been dubbed “the war to end all wars” but 100 years later we now have Veteran’s Day, in honor of the countless men and women who have served in our military through several conflicts up to present times.
Fannin County observed Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 10 with a parade in downtown Blue Ridge followed by a memorial service at Fannin’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Despite cold temperatures, families lined East Main Street as the parade passed by. Vehicles were adorned with American flags, as were the businesses downtown.
The parade marked a time of celebration of our veterans and what they have sacrificed for the continued freedom of our nation, but the memorial service marked a time to remember, a time to honor, and a time for military brothers and sisters to come together once more.
Flags were flown high at the Veterans Memorial Park. From left to right were the POW/MIA (Prisoners of War / Missing in Action) flag, followed by the different branches of our armed services in the order that they were authorized by Congress: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force.
“Always posted a little brighter and a little taller than the other flags” was the American Flag.
Representatives from the Capt. James Kell Chapter of National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented a wreath at the ceremony: “In honor of all of those who could not be here with us today, who are being held prisoner of war, or those who are not accounted for.”
Keynote speaker retired Army Colonel Gary Engel is a distinguished military graduate with a career spanning 28 years.
Engel acknowledged the veterans present at the memorial service and also took time to honor local police, firefighters, and first responders: “”I believe they are on the home front defending. They are some great guys and a lot of times they are not recognized for what they do for our country.”
Speaking of the characteristics that define a veteran, Engle said, “Veterans are different. If you want to look at success in life, look at a veteran.”
Some of the areas that Engel highlighted as defining a veteran are honor, integrity, courage, loyalty, discipline, and selfless service: “Veterans understand that it’s not about them.”
“One of the most powerful things that a vet has is faith,” Engel said adding that faith means to serve instead of being served. Through faith Engel said comes the most important characteristic, love.
“Love for country. Love for family. Love for their brothers in arms,” all of this Engel says veterans have in common. “Success is not about some of the things of this world, but about how many lives you can touch. Successful people touch other people and they allow other people to have dreams of freedom to live in a free country.”
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JASPER, Ga. – It’s not Veterans’ Day, but you might think it was if you were in Pickens County on August 9 as they finally dedicated their long-awaited Veterans Memorial next to Lee Newton Park.
Situated at the edge of the parking lot on Stegall Drive, the Memorial opened for the public with an official dedication at 11:00 a.m. The dedication saw the colors of each military branch set in honor at the site while veterans and members of the American Legion hung the American Flag over the memorial. While several people offered words to sanctify the grounds, they added an offering of the 21-Gun Salute and “Taps,” as well.
The ceremony’s impact was only dwarfed by the size of the crowd that attended the day to offer thanks and respect to those who served. Most of them are veterans or have veterans in their family, a fact noted when a speaker asked these people to raise their hands during his speech.
One of those veterans is Al Parson Larson. At 90-years-old, Larson says he served on the USS Astoria, a light cruiser, in World War II. The day’s events held a certain somberness throughout, but meeting Larson punctuated the event as he confessed it would be the last time he would ever wear his uniform. It has been 70 years since Larson last wore his uniform in the line of duty. He says he has reached the point where it is just too difficult to get it on. He chuckled a moment before saying, “At least it still fits.”
Attending the event with his son, Larson was one of the few attending the event in uniform, and hundreds more who bore caps, shirts, and more signifying their service. But this photo, according to him, will be one of the last photos ever taken of him dressed out.
Veterans Memorial Park holds 5 smaller monuments in individual bricked in areas becoming part of the larger memorial that hosts bricks of honor for those who wish to purchase them in order to help build, expand, and maintain the memorial. Hoping to extend these bricks across the hillside, they confirmed they are still selling the bricks and will continue selling them indefinitely.
One speaker noted that 1% of Americans have served in the military, but looking at Pickens County, 12% of those in the county are veterans. Looking at this statistic, it has long been a need to honor that large portion of the community. But the honor is for all those who serve. The memorial has been a long time needed and a long time coming, but today it is finished. It stands as this county’s tribute for those in service.
Summing up the day’s feelings, John Trammell, President and CEO of Community Bank of Pickens County, said, “Vets, thank you for bravely doing what you were called to do so we can safely do what we are free to do.”
Make sure to check out more photos of the day at FYN’s Facebook Page.
BLUE RIDGE, GA – Rain and cold weather couldn’t keep the dedicated staff and volunteers of the Humane Society of Blue Ridge (HSBR) away from their beloved cause.
Members and supporters of this organization gathered on Thursday, September 14, 2017, to dedicate the newest addition to their campus, a Memorial Park. This Park is part of HSBR’s 10-year-plan to provide services to our community.
The beautifully landscaped Memorial Park sits close to the HSBR Haven, located on Mineral Springs Drive in Blue Ridge.
It is a place where people can reflect on the friends, both human and animal, that have made a difference in their lives.
Reverend Michael Brunson was among those present, and blessed the park. “Thank you for loving us so much that you included in the grand creation plan… animals.”
He went on, “We gather here today to dedicate this beautiful place to remember them. This is a place that we can all come to celebrate their time on this earth and in our lives.”
HSBR President Rick Glueckert gave thanks to all who work hard within the organization to make the dreams of the Humane Society a reality. He also gave special thanks to the generous supporters that worked on the details of the Memorial Park.
These supporters worked tirelessly to provide commemorative concepts, landscaping, and design. They succeeded in their vision through grants, fundraising, and private donations.
Glueckert also paid special tribute to former HSBR President Anne Williamson, “Who had the vision to bring this dream to life over 10 years ago.”
True passion and pride for this wonderful cause were displayed as Glueckert looked out over the campus and focused his gaze upon the park. “It sure is beautiful.”
The Humane Society of Blue Ridge has allotted space for anyone who would like to pay tribute to a loved one by purchasing an engraved brick for the memorial walkway or a personalized bench for the park. You can get more information on this project by visiting the Humane Society of Blue Ridge’s website.