Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

On Campus

November 10, 2012

Ceremony honors veterans

Cordele — In observance of Veterans Day, a special ceremony was held Saturday at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park at Lake Blackshear  to honor the nation’s brave service men and women, both past and present.

Al Shauf, president of the Friends of the Park who sponsored the event with the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, and the park staff welcomed patrons to the event.

“We have one of the most beautiful, most visited parks in the state,” Shauf said.

Shauf talked briefly about the Veterans Memorial which was the location for the ceremony and encouraged guests to purchase bricks to be laid at the memorial in honor or in memory of anyone having served in the armed forces.

Students from the second- and fourth- grade classes at Sarah Cobb Elementary School in Americus performed a flag-waving routine to the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the U.S.A.” They also completed a chalk drawing set to music which depicted the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.

Shauf introduced Col. Tom Patton as the keynote speaker. Patton, now retired, served 35 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and is currently the administrator for Crisp County.

His military career began in 1966, when he left his hometown of Tifton and served in Vietnam, first in the infantry and later as a sniper. He was wounded and evacuated back to the states for treatment and later was sent to school.

He went on to become an aviator and helicopter pilot and served with the 160th Aviation Regiment in which he flew special helicopters. Throughout his career  Patton received numerous awards and commendations including three Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit.

Shauf described Patton as a family man; he and his wife are the parents of four adult children and grandparents to 10.

“Our military men and women have kept the wolf away from America’s door for over 250 years,” said Patton. “War time or peace time our veterans share a common bond and are willing to give their own lives in defense of our freedom.

“We must remember the sacrifices of those who have died and those that are still with us and thank them for what they have done for this country.”

Patton said the brothers and sisters of the military have a love of country, are above reproach and unquestionable valor. They miss the births of their children, birthdays, anniversaries and spend holidays sometimes thousands of miles away from their families and loved ones.

“Our veterans represent the finest men and women in America,” he said. “They understand the price of freedom because they can put a face on it. They are living examples of what it means to be a good citizen.”

Patton said he’s often asked why he spent 35 years in uniform, and he says, “You always know where you stand with a soldier.”

Before ending with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln, Patton reminded the assembly that Saturday marked the 237th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Mercer University Pipes and Drums Corps, who provided a number of musical selection throughout the program, closed with “Amazing Grace” after an invocation.

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