Photo by Heather Middleton
By Mehgaan Jones
Veterans, from all branches of the Armed Forces, celebrated the 92nd observance of Veterans Day in Forest Park, Thursday. They did it in speeches, prayers and songs.
"A lot of people don't understand why we celebrate on this day," said Forest Park Mayor Pro-Tem Sparkle Adams. "We think about the day ... the significance of Nov. 11, the day the war [World War I] ended."
The program began with Forest Park City Manager John Parker welcoming veterans and thanking everyone for attending the ceremony at city hall.
Forest Park High School's Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (AFJROTC) presented the colors, which included setting up the American flags.
The Rev. Leon Beeler, of the Forest Park Ministers Association, prayed for the protection of those who have served, and those currently fighting for this nation's freedom. "When I pray today, I am praying with a knowledge of what it means to be humbled by being allowed to serve your country," said Beeler.
Michelle Dorsey, an employee of the City of Forest Park, sang the national anthem, along with "Amazing Grace," and "God Bless America."
Then, Mayor Corine Deyton introduced the keynote speaker for the program, retired Col. Fred Bryant, who served 30 years with the U.S. Army, in numerous staff and leadership positions.
Bryant spoke about his experiences in various parts of the world over his long career, including service during the Korean Conflict, in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He said he wanted to honor all of those who have served and are serving in the military "past, present and future."
"Our young men and women, who fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, preserve our way of life and enable other freedom-loving people to dream and hope for a brighter, more peaceful future, free of violence, intolerance and death," he said.
He added that their work is not yet complete ... "Freedom is not free," he said.
City Manager Parker said he comes from a long line of soldiers. "My great-great-great-great-grandfathers, on both sides, were in the Civil War. We [members of my family] have been in every war since then." He added that he, himself, is a veteran of the U.S. Army, who served for 30 years.
"I can't explain to you what war does to different people," he said. "Sometimes, it's physical, sometimes it's mental. You are never the same," he said.
The ceremony ended with Mayor Deyton and Parker placing a wreath at the Forest Park City Hall Veterans Memorial. "Today has a special significance, especially to those who have been there [in war]," Parker added.