East Texas Arboretum holds Veterans Day Ceremony/Crowds gather to honor those who served

Posted by : admin | On : November 16, 2017

Christina Roberts pins a commemorative ribbon on World War II Veteran Jesse Garrett. All the veterans attending the service were presented with ribbons, thanking them for their service.

Christina Roberts pins a commemorative ribbon on World War II Veteran Jesse Garrett. All the veterans attending the service were presented with ribbons, thanking them for their service.

By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society welcomed a crowd to the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 10, where veterans, families and friends paid honor to veterans past and present.
Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders welcomed the veterans and family members and thanked those who journeyed out to support and honor the veterans. “I think about our freedoms, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, the right to assemble and our freedom of speech,” Sanders said and then asked the veterans who were able, to stand. “This is why we have these freedoms, the reason we can smell the sweet smell of freedom in this country.”
He went on to say, “This nation was founded on freedom, but it has taken the great sacrifice of these men and women to preserve our freedom.”
Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery gave the invocation and led the pledges to the American and Texas flags. Boy Scout Troop 343 members Gabe Carbajal and Ethan Kobelia posted the colors.
Second-generation U.S. Marine Veteran Michael Goodman who served two tours of duty overseas, said, “Today is a double honor for me as it is the official birthday of the Marine Corps., founded in a tavern 242 years ago.”
He went on to say, “As veterans, we took an oath to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic and to date, no one has delivered us of that oath.” Goodman pointed out that 7.3 percent of the population has served in the armed forces and 20 million veterans are alive today. “It is the mission of these veterans to carry the torch of freedom and pass it down to future generations, to be keepers of the oath.”
Goodman quoted Thomas Paine who said, “Those that want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.”
Featured speaker Representative Lance Gooden was unavailable to speak since he was at a hearing fighting against the forced annexation of Kaufman County land by the city of Mesquite. Athens City Councilman Ed McCain stood in his place, praising Gooden for his accomplishments in the past legislative session including reduced fees for license to carry permits and tax relief for disabled veterans.
McCain told the story of two Marines in his life, his grandfather and his brother. Colonel Warren McCain, his grandfather, who joined the Marine Corps in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, after having served in the Army and getting his education. He went on to fight in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. “He lived the American Dream, born in the dustbowl and went on to defend his country honorably. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. This was always a huge source of pride for our family.”
A few months after Sept. 11, McCain’s brother Ryan felt the call to serve his country. McCain had taken on a fatherly role with his brother, so he was the one who took him to the recruiting depot and stood at Parris Island as he graduated.
“One day he called me and said he was going to Afghanistan. At that moment when the most important thing in my life was threatened, I began to understand the sacrifice. The message I would like to give our millionaire athletes who play children’s games on Sunday, is that if you felt for an instant, that terror I felt, you wouldn’t kneel during our National Anthem.”
McCain’s brother served his country and is now an air traffic controller.
South Athens Elementary fourth-graders, led by teacher Barbara Railsback, entertained the crowd with patriotic songs including a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.” Boy Scout Troop 343 presented a commemorative wreath from the Daniel McMahon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.