Honoring those who serve
A large crowd of residents from Sharp County and the surrounding area, including veterans with service ranging from World War II to the Gulf War, gathered on Thursday, Nov. 11, to celebrate Veterans Day at the American Veterans Memorial in Ash Flat.
"It is time to honor our heroes in battle and all of the members of the Armed Forces who have served our country over the past 234 years," said retired Col. Dick Sackett, who led the ceremony.
The Cherokee Village American Legion Color Guard presented the flag during the event which included the laying of a wreath in honor of veterans who have given their lives to protect American freedoms.
First District Congressman-elect, Rick Crawford, addressed the audience.
Crawford is the son of an Air Force veteran and was, himself, a bomb disposal technician in the U.S. Army. He also worked Secret Service details protecting Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Crawford paid tribute to military families, recalling the sadness and unease his family felt when his father was twice deployed into combat areas.
"Who makes the greatest sacrifice, the fighting men and women on the Battlefield or the families left behind?" asked Crawford.
Crawford pledged, as Congressman, to "commit 100 percent to the support of veterans".
Col. Sackett, who retired after 31 years of military service and now lives in Ash Flat, also called for more help for veterans.
"When a Congressman talks of the cost of providing a program for veterans, remind him of the cost American veterans have paid," said Sackett. "Long separations from families, missing the birth of a child back home, exposure to chemicals like Agent Orange, and the loss of limbs and life."
Sackett praised the American Veterans Memorial for putting veterans in the spotlight and helping the local Veterans Day ceremony grow in recent years.
"I love the country, I like good people and what veterans have done cannot be forgotten," said 85-year-old Kenneth Davis, a World War II vet who served in Europe, explaining why Veterans Day gatherings are important to him.
Others turned out for a morning ceremony at Highland High School.