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Saluting Veterans

In Honor of Their Service
Saluting Veterans
HONORING EVERY BRANCH – The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post helped to honor veterans of every military service branch as they presented each branch’s flag during the Veterans Day Luncheon.Photo by Evan Riekhof
Saluting Veterans
HONORING EVERY BRANCH – The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post helped to honor veterans of every military service branch as they presented each branch’s flag during the Veterans Day Luncheon.Photo by Evan Riekhof

The spirit of patriotism and gratitude was in the air on Friday, November 10, as the Vidalia High School SoundTribe and Downtown Vidalia Association (DVA) held Veterans Day ceremonies to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Vidalia High School held its ceremony first, as the school invited members of the community to celebrate local veterans through patriotic performances by the SoundTribe marching band and the Vidalia High School Show Choir. Student Gregory Huston also joined the ensemble to lead attendees in singing “God Bless the USA,” and local veterans, such as Vidalia native Fred Godbee, spoke to continued from page

the students about the importance of honoring the military.

Then, at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, the DVA hosted the annual “Veterans Day Luncheon,” during which the organization used music and flag presentations to honor veterans in attendance. The local JROTC Thunderbolt Regiment posted the colors at the beginning of the ceremony and Luther Wardlaw sang the “National Anthem.” The local Veterans of Foreign Wars post acknowledged veterans from each military branch as they showcased each flag from the United States Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, and Space Force.

DVA Executive Director Tonya Parker also spoke at the event, explaining the empty table which had been set up to memorialize those missing in action.

“We are certainly grateful for everyone here today, but we must remember those that are not,” she emphasized. “This table to my right honors the men and women who serve in America’s Armed Forces. The table is round to show our everlasting devotion and concern for our fallen and missing comrades. The cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. The single red rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the life and the blood that was shed, and of loved ones and friends who keep the faith as they await answers. The vase is tied with a red ribbon – a symbol of our commitment and continued determination to account for those missing. A slice of lemon on the plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. The salt is to remind us of the tears endured by those missing and their families, who still seek answers.”

She continued, “The black napkin is a reminder of the isolation, deprivation, and cruel fate for our missing. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share this evening with us. The chair is empty and tilted – they are not here, and thus, the chair will remain until they are here or accounted for. You are not forgotten; so long as there is one left, your memory remains.”

The attendees submitted their names for a host of door prizes which had been donated to the event by various businesses. Volunteers served each attendee with a meal, while George Holcomb entertained the audience with tunes that celebrated patriotism and the American spirit such as, “Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly” by Aaron Tippin and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” by The Judds.

Several veterans shared their appreciation of the event, and one veteran anonymously emphasized the importance of attending these celebrations. “As a veteran, I appreciate that people take the time to honor us – but I think we as veterans could do a better job at appreciating these people. It is important that we come to these events and participate when the community wants to show us their gratitude,” he explained.

Both events were described as a success by their organizers, who said they are excited to hold the annual ceremonies again next year.

SALUTING VETERANS – During two Veterans Day events, members of the community saluted local veterans for their service. At the “Veterans Day Luncheon,” members of the JROTC Thunderbolt Regiment posted the colors and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.Photo by Evan Riekhof

REMEMBERING THOSE MISSING – Downtown Vidalia Association Executive Director Tonya Parker informed attendees about the symbolism of the empty table at the Veterans Day Luncheon.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

TCES FALL FESTIVAL KING & QUEEN – At their Fall Festival on Thursday, November 2, Toombs Central Elementary School named Jamie Ventura (left) and Barrett Pittman (right) the school’s Fall Festival King & Queen for raising the most money within the festival’s royal court. The royal court consisted of one boy and one girl from each grade who raised the most money for the school within their grade. The court included: Pre-Kindergarteners Delaney Rollins and Barrett Pittman; Kindergarteners Eliana Dykes and Nathan Evans.

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