November 20, 2008
Area veterans turned out in larger numbers this year for the second annual Veterans Day celebration in Holly Springs.
School participation also swelled with several sets of bleachers filled, as well as one section of floor seats occupied by students. Holy Family’s Drill Team put on a spectacular performance, while Holly Springs High School JROTC presented its drill team and presented the colors.
The high school male ensemble, led by Barbara Anderson, also provided musical entertainment.
Marshall Academy sent their fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, who sang patriotic songs.
Ivivian Reed provided the meditation.
Vice mayor Tim Liddy was emcee; Cheri Page, head teller at First State Bank, sang the National Anthem. Guest speakers were Mayor Andre’ DeBerry and Ret. Major Johnny B. McDonald, director of enrollment services at Rust College. Veteran Danny Tate read “In Flanders Field’ and provided history of how Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day to celebrate all who have served in the armed forces.
The program was organized by Mayor DeBerry and the city clerk’s office.
In remarks made by the mayor, he said the Veterans Day celebration is about duty, honor and country.
“It is our fighting men and women who allow this country to be free,” he said.
DeBerry thanked veterans for their sacrifices to protect the United States during times of war and peace.
“We came to say we appreciate what you’ve done,” he told veterans.
He wished Godspeed to all who will “come into the military and all our families touched by loss of life in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“We come not to judge any conflict or war but to say thank you,” he said. “We salute those who gave their lives as well. God bless you.”
Tate said Veterans Day started as Armistice Day which was set “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th year after World War I.” He spoke of a rising patriotism and unity in the United States.
“Last Tuesday (election day) was a prime example of that right - truly an historic event - of being a veteran and to express our patriotism. Too many times it’s just vets honoring vets. But today we have a large gathering. Thank you.”
McDonald expressed his joy at the drills performed by school children saying he participated in “many hours of drill and ceremony in the military.”
A good definition of a veteran is “someone who wrote a blank check to the United States for an amount up to and including their lives.”
McDonald served almost 24 years of military service including service in the Marine Corps and active duty in the U.S. Army and the Army Reserves.
Proud of his service to country he spoke of his beginnings in South Carolina, the son of a mother who attained a seventh grade education.
After seeing many racial fights in high school, McDonald said his first bunk mate was a white man.
“We learned a lot from each other,” he said. “No matter what color of your skin, we learned we all have red blood. We all are one when it comes to defending this country. Freedom isn't free. These people gave their lives so we can be free today.”
Applause followed McDonald’s comments. Then he resumed speaking, saying the military is about “dedication, commitment and getting along and helping everybody and giving your best.”
After retiring from the armed service, McDonald said he wondered what he would do with his life. He decided that recruiting would be the best way he could serve after spending two years in corporate America.
He met David Beckley, president of Rust College, in a shopping mall in Atlanta and Beckley invited him to come to work at Rust.
The program ended with Taps and the community enjoyed a reception and table of food prepared by Diane Greer and Mia Miller.
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