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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Remembering Our Veterans

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jamie Yates (rear) and Austin Merriman played "Taps" at the Veterans Day service at the American Veterans Memorial in Ash Flat Nov. 11.
Old Glory waved beautifully in the windy air above the American Veteran's Memorial at the Veterans Day service at Ash Flat on Nov. 11.

The flag joined citizens gathered to express pride in, and sorrow for, veterans who serve and have served America in all branches of the military as well as those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms.

The large crowd, dressed in patriotic colors, participated in an emotional ceremony.

Those in attendance were not only veterans, but also generations of their families and friends, and a supportive group from the community, including members of the Ash Flat Fire Department and state and local dignitaries.

Veteran Dick Sackett, who was instrumental in establishing the memorial, served as the master of ceremonies and discussed the importance of the men and women in uniform to the country. Denise Gibbons sang the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the invocation offered by Steve Summers.

Congressman Rick Crawford was the guest speaker. Clad in an Air Force Flight jacket, he told the crowd of growing up as the child of a serviceman, along with having served in the military himself. Crawford also highlighted the upcoming balanced budget amendment.

Crawford assured the veterans present that their benefits would not be cut.

He also took an opportunity to thank the many veterans who were present for their service to the country.

State Senator Missy Irvin was also present and mingled with the crowd before and after the presentation.

The American Legion hosted the service. The event ended with a 21 gun salute, and the release of doves by Adam Bates. Sackett read a poem about veterans, written by Bill Horton, who is also a veteran.

Sharp County Veteran Service officer Jackie Lebeuw placed the wreath, which was provided by the Highland High School, on the monument.

Highland band students Jamie Yates and Austin Merrimen drew an emotional response from many with their chilling rendition of "Taps," before the United States colors were retired for the service.

Veterans of all branches of the service were decked out in their military attire.

One man was dressed in a confederate uniform; Nelson Gatewood wore the jump suit he wore when he served and earned the coveted Purple Heart.

Veterans of all branches could be heard telling military stories from World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

These brave men and women gathered at the memorial to pay tribute to their fallen comrades, and to pay respects to those who are now in harms way.

The group also enjoyed barbecue plates served by members of the Veteran's of Foreign Wars and the American Veteran's Memorial committee.

The meal raised money to help with funding the American Veterans Memorial.

The memorial is a very special community project, to pay tribute to the service men and women who enable Americans to remain free.

Along with statues and military equipment, one of the most notable portions of the memorial are walls of bricks honoring area veterans who served in all branches of the service around the world.

No one knows of the things the eyes of these great men and women have seen.

From the Pacific Islands to the far icy corners of the earth and the dry desert areas of the Middle East, these men and women have served their country, and Nov. 11 is their day, their day to be both honored and recognized.

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