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Hundreds gathered Monday to honor and remember those who have served their country.
The annual Veterans Day ceremony, held at the Wilson County Courthouse, brought families, friends and neighbors together to honor local veterans and active-duty military personnel.
“This is a very special day,” Mayor Bruce Rose told the crowd. “They’re the reason why we have everything in our country. We live in the greatest country in the world.”
The event included patriotic music from New Hope Elementary School chorus, flag ceremonies by Fike, Hunt and Beddingfield high school Junior ROTC programs, the laying of the wreaths and a ceremony reflecting on the sacrifices of prisoners of war and those missing in action.
Ray Chambers, chairman of the Wilson Committee on Patriotism, which hosts the annual ceremony, said the ceremony aims to honor and remember those who have provided the rights, privileges and freedoms Americans enjoy today.
‘LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE BRAVE’
Attorney and community organizer Darryl Smith was Monday’s keynote speaker and discussed the history behind the observance of Veterans Day and the importance of appreciating those who have served and currently serve.
“I have not seen a country with freedoms we enjoy,” Smith said, adding that sometimes people take those freedoms for granted. “I thank God for those freedoms and those service men and women who protect us.”
Smith also shared a story about a family member who is a Vietnam veteran. He said his loved one was wounded many times on the battlefield. While his family member survived, it was difficult for his cousin when he returned home from war. His cousin struggled to regain entry into society.
Smith said his family member suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects many veterans. Smith said his family was able to support their loved one and got him the resources he needed for treatment, and he was able to regain control of his life.
Smith said so many veterans suffer from these types of issues daily, and it’s vital for communities to support veterans as they look for safe and stable housing and to help in reducing suicide rates and delayed benefits.
“We must do more for our war veterans,” Smith said. “Our veterans served and protected us, and we need to thank them and serve and protect them. Today, we celebrate our veterans in keeping our nation the land of the free and home of the brave.”
Many wore patriotic colors Monday in observance of the national holiday celebrated across the country.
The Daughters of the American Revolution’s Thomas Hadley Chapter surprised Chambers, with an Excellence in Community Service Award during Monday’s ceremony.
Adele Van Overbeke of the organization said Chambers does so much for the community, and the group wanted to honor him.
“We are so lucky to have you,” Van Overbeke told Chambers as members gave him the award. “We applaud you for your community service.”
The event concluded with a raffle volley salute by the Wilson County Veterans Honor Guard and the performance of taps by Jerry Howell of American Legion Post 13.
Isaiah Whitley, Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church youth choir member and 2018 Wilson Has Talent winner, performed the national anthem.