A crowd gathered for an emotional ceremony to honor generations of veterans. Among those in attendance were not only veterans, but also generations of their families and friends and a very supportive group from the community including members of the Ash Flat Fire Department and state and local dignitaries.
Veterans of all branches of the service were decked out in their military attire, hats, uniforms and were laden with flags. They could be heard telling military stories from World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories of these men and women gathered to pay tribute to their fallen comrades, pay respects to those who are now in harms way so Americans can maintain their rights to such gatherings, were anywhere from horrific to humorous.
The group also enjoyed barbecue plates served by Arkansas State Representative David Cook and his wife Phyllis. The meal provided money to help with funding the American Veterans Memorial. This memorial is a very special area and a remarkable tribute to the service men and women who enable Americans to remain free.
The memorial also includes a wall of veterans who served in all branches of the service in wars around the world. Nelson and Phyllis Gatewood with the Highland Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter helped serve the meal. Charlotte Goodwin and Donna Cruse were also present selling sheet sets as a fundraiser for the memorial.
As the services began, and the colors were presented, emotions ran high due to the very recent deaths of 13 American service men and the injuries of another 30 at Fort Hood, Texas.
Following the invocation and Denise Gibbons singing her crowd pleasing rendition of the, "Star Spangled Banner," the featured speaker, Karrol Fowlkes addressed the group with a patriotic and uplifting talk about the history of Veterans Day. Red, white and blue were the dominant colors in the crowd as they displayed their flags and many were dressed in the colors to show their pride in the United States as well as their support for the numerous veterans who were present for the service as well as many who could not attend. A dog was even dressed in a patriotic theme and seemed to mind his manners and enjoyed the service.
Following the customary 21 gun salute, doves were released by Heath Funeral Home to honor veterans. The chilling sound of taps was played prior to ending the service and placement of the wreath by Jenny Lewis and laying of three roses by veteran Rebecca Burrough who served in Iraq. Sharp County Veteran Service Officer Jackie Lebeu also spoke to the crowd and introduced the musical entertainment for the ceremony.
The flag was then raised from half mast to full mast in honor of Veterans Day.
The crowd was entertained by patriotic songs as they finished their lunch.
Many do not realize the huge price of freedom and the veteran's that insure the liberties we so often take for granted. Veterans Day is a wonderful opportunity to show respect and reflect on lives lost.