By Curt Yeomans
Veterans and active-duty members of the military will be honored at ceremonies across the country on Wednesday, and at a few events taking place in Clayton and Henry counties.
Wednesday is Veterans Day, the day which commemorates the end of World War I, and on which many Americans take a moment to reflect on former and present members of the U.S. military.
There were an estimated 23.2 million veterans living in the U.S. last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"On Veterans Day, we honor the heroes we have lost, and we re-dedicate ourselves to the next generation of veterans by supporting our soldiers, sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they return home from duty," President Barack Obama said in a proclamation Oct. 30, declaring Wednesday as Veterans Day.
"Our grateful Nation must keep our solemn promises to these brave men and women and their families," he continued. "They have given their unwavering devotion to the American people, and we must keep our covenant with them."
Locally, veterans and active-duty service members will be honored at ceremonies scheduled to take place in Morrow, Forest Park and McDonough, and in a military memorabilia display in Hampton.
An extensive, two-day observance of Veterans Day will take place at Clayton State University. Events taking place during that time are being hosted through a combined effort of the school's Office of Orientation and New Student Programs, the Student Veterans Association, the ROTC program, and the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity.
The celebration taking place at Clayton State will begin Wednesday at 10 a.m., with three events kicking off at the same time, all on the university's main campus in Morrow.
One of those events will be a ceremony at Clayton State's Lawson Amphitheater, next to Swan Lake, during which military veteran and Clayton State Assistant Professor of Marketing David Furman will give the keynote address. During the ceremony, the university's ROTC Color Guard will present and retire the colors, and provide music.
Also beginning at 10 a.m., is a veterans reception on Main Street, in the school's James M. Baker University Center. The university is inviting the public, particularly members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, to attend the reception which will last until 12:30 p.m.
Throughout the day, on Main Street, students and members of the public will also be able to write notes of gratitude on an "Appreciation Banner," which will be sent to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The banner will also be available for signing on Thursday, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m.
Also on Thursday, at 6 p.m., Clayton State students, faculty, staff and members of the public are invited to participate in a swing dance class in the ballroom of Clayton State's Student Activity Center.
The City of Forest Park will hold its own Veterans Day celebration, featuring a speech by retired Brig. Gen. Robert L. Stephens, the vice president for external relations at Clayton State. The celebration will be held on Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m., at Forest Park City Hall, which is located at 745 Forest Parkway.
Henry County officials will hold their own ceremony on Wednesday, at 2:30 p.m., at the Veterans Wall of Honor at Heritage Park, which is located at 101 Lake Dow Road, in McDonough. The ceremony will include remarks from Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, and Ministry to the Armed Services Associate Director Eric Erkinnen.
The Hampton Train Depot, on East Main Street in the city, will commemorate Veterans Day with a display of military memorabilia, including uniforms and medals dating as far back as World War I, on Wednesday. The display was created by private investigator Bill Dodd, and it was placed on display earlier this week at McDonough Christian Church.