This afternoon, my father and I drove up to Springfield and met my mother who was already up there visiting family to go to the Effingham County Veterans Day Ceremony at the Veterans Park of Effingham County (next to the Effingham County Hospital on the GA Highway 21 Bypass).
The weather this afternoon wasn’t the worlds best and despite some occasional drizzle, there was quite a good crowd assembled. Almost all of the seats were filled and there were more standing in the rear. Two men that I have a great deal of respect for took part in the ceremony. My Uncle Laverne Cavanah led the Pledge of Allegiance then shortly thereafter Bill Hitchens welcomed those assembled to the ceremony. Uncle Laverne, like my father is a United States Navy Veteran. Both of them retired as Chief Petty Officers. I’m proud to say that I worked for Bill Hitchens for a number of years and I don’t think I could have asked for a better leader.
The keynote speaker was Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Claude M. Kicklighter, US Army. Gen. Kicklighter’s speech recognized Veterans of all of the country’s wars but in particular honored Veterans of the Vietnam War (of which my father is one as is Uncle Laverne). Gen. Kicklighter is the Chairman of the Dept. of Defense Vietnam 540th Anniversary Commemoration Program and in that position, helped present Gold Stars to family members of Effingham County service members killed in the Vietnam War. As Gen. Kicklighter stressed, the focus of this ceremony on Vietnam Veterans and the 50th Anniversary Program serves to give Vietnam Veterans the tribute that they should have received when they came home in the 1960s and 1970s. Additionally, the Veterans Park of Effingham County was recognized as a “Commemorative Partner” in the Dept. of Defense Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration Program.
The end of the ceremony got somewhat rained out when the occasional sprinkles turned into a brief downpour but I truly enjoyed going. I’m proud of the Veterans in my family and it’s important to me to honor them. It was wonderful to see how big the turnout for the ceremony was. The organizers indicated it was possibly the biggest turnout they’ve had in the 10 years that they’ve been holding the ceremony.
If you’re in the Coastal Georgia area and you haven’t visited the Veterans Park of Effingham County or attended the Effingham County Veterans Recognition Ceremony I’d strongly recommend it. It’s a wonderful park that honors Effingham’s Veterans from the Revolutionary War all the way to our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attending the ceremony is a good way to recognize the Veterans that have helped keep out Nation strong and free.