Retired veterans James Hurtado, former Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams and guest speaker Harriet Staten swap war stories after the Veterans Day ceremony in Forest Park Monday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
FOREST PARK — The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once observed, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Forest Park recognized good men and women from all branches of the military who sacrificed greatly to triumph over evil during a Veterans Day ceremony Monday.
Elaine Corley, director of Forest Park Parks and Recreation Department, briefly addressed several dozen veterans and residents who attended the 11 a.m. observance services. She referred to the closing lines of the national anthem, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“Those words are as true today as they were then,” Corley said. “And the words that are engraved on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., can be applied equally to the veterans of all wars.”
The words to which Corley referred are inscribed on the dedication stone, “Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”
“It is our privilege to say ‘thank you’ to all veterans and that we love them for their sacrifices,” Corley said. “We thank them for keeping this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
After Corley spoke, Michelle Dorsey gave a resounding, heartfelt a cappella rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Heckstall Sr. belted out “America the Beautiful” to kick off the ceremony inside council chambers.
The guest speaker was retired Army Col. Harriet Staten, the mother of Ken Staten Jr., recreation supervisor at Forest Park Parks and Recreation.
“Many gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives,” she said. “They are heroes but you are all heroes, too, for supporting us and giving us the privilege and thanks. We proudly serve, the veterans who served across this nation through many wars.”
Despite the supposed end to the global war on terrorism, Staten said the United States branches of military are still represented throughout the world.
“Many young men and women still serve to keep us free,” she said. “Freedom is not free. It’s paid through blood, sweat, tears and sometimes lives, to protect this country and its freedoms.”
Staten said the millions of American veterans “carry the torch of freedom for all to see.”
“When a person chooses to serve in the military, they don’t necessarily choose to serve for any gain but for us to be able to continue to enjoy our way of life,” she said. “That is why we serve. We return convinced that we’ve done something worthwhile. For us, that’s reward enough.”
Members of the Forest Park High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard presented the colors to start off the ceremony. The event wrapped up outside as Staten and Mayor David Lockhart escorted a wreath to be presented at the veterans memorial outside city hall.
Forest Park resident retired Army Staff Sgt. James Hurtado said he usually attends Henry County’s Veterans Day ceremony held at Heritage Park in McDonough. However, he said he was glad he stayed “home,” as it were.
“I liked the ceremony,” he said. “They’ve got that nice park and memorial and museum there in Henry County. Why can’t we have something like that here in Clayton County? We need it.”