Land that they love
When the last speaker left the podium at the Veterans Day Program "American Heroes" at the North Carolina Veterans Memorial in Broadway Monday morning, a single voice rose from the crowd.
"God bless America," began one man.
The chorus, shaky at first, rose with strength and volume from the 200 veterans, family members and supporters gathered at the memorial for the annual Veterans Day event.
Various veterans and leaders spoke throughout the ceremony, remarking on the sacrifice made by military men and women.
It is a tremendous honor "to look out to see my heroes, my brothers, my sisters, who have served in the past [and] in the present, and also the ones who will serve in the future," said Leon Jackson, veterans employee representative for the Lee County JobLink Career Center.
"The ones I am saluting today are the ones out there now," he said. "You are the ones who made it possible. You are the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice. You are the American heroes, and no one can take that from you. Regardless of whatever decisions our government makes, we will always have a bond as brothers and sisters at arms. And I salute you on this day."
American Legion Post 347 Commander Roy Buchanan thanked the veterans for their service and their dedication to the local memorial, and invited all the veterans for refreshments at the American Legion Post while Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5631 Commander Aubrey Hall gave audience members a brief history of the VFW and highlighted the need to take care of veterans.
Lee County Veterans Services Officer John Sandrock said he was glad to see the number of veterans at the remembrance ceremony increase year after year, and asked the veterans to commit to one more act of service.
"You have all earned the honor and respect," he said. "You have provided service to the country. But I am asking you to continue that service. I want to ask each of you to become not just a member, but an active member of a service organization."
The Lee County High School ROTC presented the flags during the ceremony, and the American Heritage Girls Troop N.C. 1715 presented each veteran with a rose. The event was sponsored by the Disabled American Auxiliary Unit No. 5.