A packed crowd turned out for the Veterans Day program at the Troup County Veterans Memorial on Monday.
The event speaker, State Court Judge Jeannette Little, said that she had not been touched by war.
“I was not in a service-related family. I didn’t have to wonder where my father was, or where my brother was at night and if they were in danger,” Little said. “But I know that so many of you have felt that.”
However Little said she recently had read letters from her uncle that he wrote while serving in World War II.
“To hear the longing in his heart for his wife, and his young baby, and for the baby about to be born – understanding what these people in Afghanistan and places all around the world – what they give up is incredible,” she said.
She said veterans of Vietnam did not get the thanks they deserved at the time. She asked Vietnam veterans to stand.
“We thank you for the service you did,” she said. “It was tough, and sometime felt unappreciated.”
She also addressed the World War II veterans in the crowd.
“You are the greatest generation,” she said. “I had two uncles in World War II. Although I did not get to know them well, I look back on both of them as heroes.”
She said those who serve today do so at a great cost, addressing the veterans of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. She pointed out the drive to serve in the armed forces, even among a society that seems more selfish.
“Thank you for serving in a world that is so self-serving and materialistic,” she said. “Thank you for what you do and why you do it.”
Little repeated a saying she once heard that veterans one day wrote a blank check for their country that included a price as high as their life. She said for those who had died, and for the families who had lost loved ones to war, they made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good.
She repeated that although she had not been touched by war, she have a neighbor who died in Vietnam, and still thinks about him and his family.
Little also shared a story about her granddaughter, whose uncle has served three tours in Afghanistan, missing the birth of one child and not seeing another child during his deployments. The granddaughter told her mother that she wanted to be a soldier. When her mother questioned her reason, the granddaughter said, “because I love my country and I want to protect it.”
Little finished by reciting the lines from the “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which she said kept coming to her mind when thinking of veterans:
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
“Thank you all so much,” she told the veterans. “You have my utmost gratitude.”
The West Georgia Veterans Council at the event also named its first Veteran of the Year, Dave Lyons, who coordinates bus routes for local veterans to get to veterans’ hospitals in surrounding areas like Tuskegee, Ala., and Atlanta. Wendell Kistler, VFW Post 4629 commander and Veterans Council chairman, presented Lyons with a flag that had flown over the state capitol building.
“This is the go-to man for all veterans who want to go to the hospital,” Kistler said.
“The reason I do all that is to serve all of those who served our country,” Lyons said. “I can’t thank you enough for this honor.”
The event also featured singing by Neal Brumbeloe, and the Rev. Dalton Hammock and Page Estes, president of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, read the names of local veterans who have died in the past year.