Paying Tribute: Forest Park honors veterans

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Linda Looney-Bond


Mary Parker, 95, of Forest Park, said she always attends the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony hosted by the City of Forest Park.

"I come every year, and when my husband was alive, he came," said Parker Wednesday, while waiting for the program to begin at Forest Park City Hall.

"I had the best husband. He had a good sense of humor. He was born here [Forest Park], lived here, died here, and buried here. I miss him," Parker said about the late Homer M. Parker, Sr.

She said her husband served as a civilian employee in Germany during WW II. "He worked for the telephone company. They sent him to Germany to do the work nobody else could do."

She said she continues the tradition of attending the ceremony in honor of all veterans, and in support of troops currently in harm's way. "I support the boys that are fighting now for us. I appreciate the ones that represent us in wars and protect our country," she said.

Reba Reynolds, 78, of Morrow, said she attended last year's Veterans Day program in Forest Park, and felt compelled to return this year. "I feel we should honor all of the veterans. I think that's very important to let them know that we appreciate what they did for our country," she said.

Reynolds said her husband, the late Ben Reynolds, was a veteran who served in the Marines during WW II, in the South Pacific.

About 50 people attended Forest Park's Veterans Day program Wednesday. The ceremony included the rendering, and retiring, of colors by the Forest Park High School AFROTC; the singing of the national anthem; recognition of all veterans present; a wreath-laying ceremony, and the playing of Taps.

Keynote speaker, U.S. Army Retired Brigadier Gen. Robert L. Stephens, Jr., urged the continued support of U.S. troops. "This day reminds us how important it is that the men and women in uniform know how grateful Americans are for their sacrifice," he said.

Stephens is currently the vice president for external relations at Clayton State University, and executive assistant to the president of the university. His military career includes 30 years of active service, including commanding two companies in Vietnam, and commanding a separate infantry brigade in Panama.

Stephens led the Army's first joint task force to find and destroy drug laboratories in South America, according to his biographical information.

His last military assignment was serving as director of the Joint Armed Forces Inaugural Committee responsible for the ceremonial activities in the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

"On this Veterans Day," he told the gathering in Forest Pak, "let us redouble our efforts to see our men and women in uniform get the care and recognition that they are due ... so wounded warriors are not burdened by excessive delay.

"It is a sacred obligation that we make sure they receive the care, benefits, and compensation they most surely have earned. We should have no higher leadership priority than that," he said.