By Kathy Jefcoats
Veterans in Clayton and Henry counties will be honored this week during the 50th anniversary of Veterans Day Nov. 11.
But some events are scheduled this weekend to get a jump on the actual day.
Originally observed as Armistice Day beginning in 1938, the holiday was officially designated to honor all veterans in 1954. In Henry County, the ceremony follows the tradition of starting at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. American Legion Post 55 in McDonough invites all veterans, their families and supporters to the Square for a patriotic service.
Post Commander David Roegner joined the Legion three years ago. Last year, he placed flowers on the graves of veterans.
"It was a goose bump experience," he said. "I had never done it before and it was a terrific feeling to do that for those who did so much."
Roegner, 63, served in the Army 1966-69, one of those years in Vietnam. But his chosen profession was American history teacher. He taught 16 years in New York before heading south to Morrow, then Jonesboro and finally McDonough. Roegner spent 20 years in Georgia schools before retiring. He now works at Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale.
Thursday's McDonough services will include participation from Henry County and Union Grove high schools Junior ROTC, a welcome from Mayor Richard Craig, music by Henry County Middle School band and an address by State Court Judge Jim Chafin, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
The Legion Women's Auxiliary will sell memorial poppies for donations. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. in the anchor building of McDonough Presbyterian Church on McGarity Road.
A ceremony honoring veterans will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. in Riverdale at the Veterans Park next to City Hall. Guest speakers will be Col. Angela Manos, garrison commander of Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, and U.S. Congressman David Scott.
Also in Clayton County, veterans and any other interested people are invited to attend a Veterans Day luncheon at Fort Gillem's Getaway Club Tuesday, Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. To reserve a $15 ticket, call Laura Chapman at the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce at 678-610-4021.
Public safety officials will participate in a Georgia Special Forces Run from Duluth to Savannah, Nov. 11-13 to honor members of the military. Operation One-Voice is a nonprofit association of police, firefighters, emergency services and citizens formed to honor the military.
The 338-mile run will take 10-12 runners about 50 hours. The trail is expected to come through Henry County and local law enforcement officers are invited to participate as the event winds through the area.
While the focus is on veterans, their families and survivors might want to make a calendar note of important events coming up in December. The Georgia Department of Veterans Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are holding "supermarkets of veterans benefits" to provide one-stop counseling and information services.
Although a stop is not scheduled for Clayton or Henry counties, veterans and their families can attend one set Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., in Griffin at the National Guard Armory at 1015 South Hill St. For more information, call Brian Zeringue at 404-656-5933.
Also, some survivors of veterans face a December deadline for restored Veterans Affairs benefits. Those who are eligible must apply for reinstatement before Dec. 15. The deadline relates to a change in federal law that makes spouses of deceased veterans who remarried on or after their 57th birthday and before Dec. 16, 2003, eligible for restoration of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation VA benefits.
Surviving spouses who believe they might be eligible for reinstatement should call or visit a Veterans Services Office.
All government buildings and banks will be closed Nov. 11 and no mail will be delivered.
The Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is sponsoring the Second Annual "A Flight With Eagles Symposium" at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Historical Airpower Facility, Falcon Field, Peachtree City. The program features World War II veterans of the 365th Fighter Group "Hell Hawks" who flew the P-47 Thunderbolt against Nazi Germany. Rare P-47 and other vintage aircraft, vehicles and memorabilia will be on display. Proceeds to benefit "Education Through Living History," WWII history program available to schools and youth groups free of charge. Tickets $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Students $15 or free when accompanied by a paid adult (1 student per adult). Reserved tables $300. For more information, visit dixiewing.org or call (567) 364-1110.