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Stockbridge celebrates Veterans Day at City Cemetery

Photo by Valerie Baldowski
Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart (second from left) directed veteran Emory Ashurst (left) to give the flag to Color Guard member Tory Butler. Ashurst was one of the speakers for Stockbridge's Veterans Day program, held Thursday at the City Cemetery.

Photo by Valerie Baldowski Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart (second from left) directed veteran Emory Ashurst (left) to give the flag to Color Guard member Tory Butler. Ashurst was one of the speakers for Stockbridge's Veterans Day program, held Thursday at the City Cemetery.

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The City of Stockbridge chose an historic site for holding a Flagpole Dedication Ceremony to remember soldiers on Veterans Day.

Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart, and city council members, gathered with veterans, and community leaders on Thursday, to hold the ceremony at the City Cemetery on Ga. Highway 42.

The flagpole in the cemetery, and the stone marker at its base, are new, officials said. The flagpole was erected two weeks ago, and the stone was laid a week ago.

Mayor Stuart, who is a veteran, emphasized the need to remember the commitment of soldiers serving their country.

"It's very important, I think, throughout the nation, not just in Stockbridge, to stop and pay respect for those who've gone before us," he said. "We wouldn't be here today, if it wasn't for the veterans in this country right here."

Stuart served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 2002.

He said a number of veterans, some dating back to the Civil War, are buried in the city cemetery.

During the program, Stuart quoted a passage from the Bible - John15:13 - to illustrate veterans' contributions: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends," he said.

"Where would we be without the sacrifices of our men and women who've answered the call to serve in uniform?" asked Stuart. "Today, the City of Stockbridge is taking the time to honor citizens of Stockbridge who have answered freedom's call to serve our great nation for generations."

Chaplain Irvin Bryer, pastor of Cross Road Christian Church in Stockbridge, gave the invocation and benediction for the ceremony.

The program has special significance to those who served in the military, as well as their loved ones, said Bryer.

The Color Guard posted the colors, and the American flag was presented to veteran Emory Ashurst.

Ashurst, 90, is Stockbridge's oldest veteran, said Miranda Roberts, the city's director of events.

Ashurst served in the U.S. Marines from 1940 to 1946, before joining the U.S. Army in 1947. He served in the Army from 1947 to 1964, retiring in 1964 as a Chief Warrant Officer. He returned to the Army, and served as a civilian until 1989, said Roberts.

"I really don't know what to say, I'm really at a loss for words," Ashurst said. "I'm a former Marine, I'm retired from the Army, a veteran that's very proud of my country. I've been told by people that they appreciated what I did. What I did was for my country, and for my people," he said. "I appreciate the United States of America, and what it stands for. This is my country, and I love it."

Dick Grimes, a member of the Urban Redevelopment Agency, spoke about his early memories of how his family honored veterans.

"I can recall, back in the mid-1930s, my grandmother teaching me about, they called it then, Armistice Day," said Grimes. "This was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This was the 'big war to end all wars,' World War I.

"I think that you all know from what we've talked about, that freedom is not free," he said. "The old saying [is], if you like freedom, thank a vet."