By Valerie Baldowski
Military personnel were honored for their contributions, sacrifices and dedication to their country at a special Veteran's Day luncheon Nov. 7 at Eagle's Landing Country Club, sponsored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.
The keynote speaker, who addressed the audience in the packed room, was Ret. Army Capt. Tommy Clack. Other speakers included soldiers from Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson.
One of those in attendance, by invitation, was Hampton resident, Thomas Schaffer.
Schaffer, the courier for the Henry Daily Herald and the Clayton News Daily, served in the U.S. Navy, and retired after more then 21 years as a Chief Petty Officer. He and his wife, Frances, have two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
He said veterans are asked to make sacrifices and endure hardships not required of others outside of the military. "Those of us who have served, and those of us who've been abroad, have had to spend so much time away from our families."
He said also that military life has its ups and downs. "The bad part is not having any roots," added Schaffer. "It's very difficult. [If] your family's sitting here and they send you to Timbuktu, you have to go. The good part is serving your country. You have a good sense of feeling that you have contributed to the service of your country."
During the luncheon, Clack mentioned the importance of teaching children what military life imparts to soldiers, namely dedication, discipline and the willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
"I concur with Capt. Clack on that," Schaffer said. "The problem we have today is that we have very little discipline in the home." However, he complimented the job his children have done with raising their children. "They're disciplined, and thank God for that."
Also in attendance was State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro), himself a veteran. Glanton served 20 years in the U.S. Army as a non-commissioned officer.
He said listening to Clack was inspiring. "I was very impressed with not only what he has endured as a veteran, but the ability to articulate it to the audience," Glanton said. "It gives a whole different mindset to people who don't understand what veterans have endured."
He added that veterans, many times, are not treated with enough respect. "As a country, we have to do better, not to just recognize our veterans, but support our veterans."
As one example, Glanton pointed to the closing of veterans hospitals, and the trouble veterans often experience trying to re-adjust to civilian life, or get help and support when needed.
"Those are the kinds of horror stories that frustrate me as a veteran."
Glanton added that Clack was accurate in his speech about the need to educate students on the sacrifices soldiers make on behalf of their country. He would like to see a resolution which would invite veterans into the schools on Veterans Day to speak directly to the children.
"It's one thing to read something in a history book," Glanton said. "It's another thing to talk to someone who was there."