Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
At least one member of the U.S. armed forces was sitting at each table provided, for a luncheon in College Park, Wednesday. This gave about 150 individuals the opportunity to talk to, and thank, the individual willing to risk his or her life for the well being of the nation.
The Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council hosted the "13th Annual Veterans Day Luncheon," held at the Georgia International Convention Center.
The Chamber held the event to honor those who have served, and those who are still actively serving in the armed forces.
"On Veterans Day tomorrow the sun will rise and stretch on veterans...remembering who they were and what they did," said Col. Deborah Grays, garrison commander for Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, during a military welcome at the event.
Grays said veterans will come together and share their stories and experiences of service to the nation.
She said veterans are "the legacy that makes our country so great."
Towards the end of her speech, Grays recited the lyrics of the chorus of a song entitled, "God Bless the U.S.A.," sung by Lee Greenwood.
The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. (JROTC) Color Guard of Mundy's Mill High School, in Jonesboro, sharply performed a posting of the colors. The four members of the Color Guard marched towards the stage, as one member held the U.S. flag, while another held the Georgia state flag.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Darrand Williams, said it's great for the local community to come together and recognize the men and women serving in the armed forces.
"Being a soldier, we don't look for a thank you, so when anybody recognizes the fact that you protect and serve, you stand back, and it's kind of gratifying," said Williams, while eating his meal at the luncheon. "It makes you feel good."
For Williams, celebrating Veterans Day, he said, means honoring those who have served, and have died serving for the U.S., to preserve the tradition and values the nation holds.
"It also makes me reflect on those, and remember those that have served before me, and I try to do my best every day, to make past veterans proud of the job I am doing today," said Williams.
Col. Peter VanAmburgh, chief of staff for the Georgia National Guard, was the keynote speaker, during the luncheon.
He said, although he has served his country for over 26 years, he remains in awe of the sacrifice and bravery the men and women in the armed forces continue to demonstrate.
"That gives me great hope for the future...they put themselves aside for the protection of our nation," said VanAmburgh.
According to the Military Affairs Council, VanAmburgh began his military career in 1984, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
"His career has required the performance of various special operations and intelligence missions in England, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, [the country of] Georgia, Panama, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Uganda," said representatives of the Military Affairs Council, in a statement.
Jim Morton, a veteran and president of the Atlanta 555th Parachute Infantry Association, Inc. (The Triple Nickles), said he served in the Korean War, in 1953, as an airborne ranger, and the Vietnam War, as part of the airborne brigade of the First Airborne Cavalry Division.
Morton said Veterans Day allows him to share his war stories with the younger generation serving their country.
"It gives me an opportunity to give the stories to the young troops, so they can understand that we have preserved the legacy and expanded the history of The Triple Nickles," said Morton.