Nancy Huey, wearing a bright red hat covered in buttons including several with American flags, sat on the second row the city of Dunwoody’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony held Nov. 11 at Brook Run Park.
“This hat contains American things on it,” she said. “Anything American and especially our military.”
Huey, a 50-year Dunwoody resident and member of the Sandy Springs chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was one of dozens of residents and veterans who gathered near the park’s Veteran Memorial to honor all military servicemembers. Special guests included the Dunwoody High School chorus, which sang several patriotic songs, and the DHS Air Force JROTC unit and its color guard team that posted the flags at the beginning of the ceremony.
The keynote speaker was Mayor Denis Shortal, a retired brigadier general in the Marine Corps who flew combat missions during the Vietnam War. He spoke about the importance of remembering those who have served in the military and those who are serving now.
“What you are is defined by what you do … and I think that’s what we are doing here today,” Shortal said, recalling a quote he likes. “We’re defining that … we are here to honor and remember.”
Another quote to remember on Veterans Day, Shortal said, is, “Dying for freedom is not the worst thing that can happen, but dying for freedom and not being remembered is the worst thing that can happen.”
“It’s important to remember the ideals we have in this country are not the ideals held by other countries,” Shortal said. “We sit here in this free atmosphere and it’s really unique.”
He said 18 of his friends died while serving in combat. “They paid the supreme sacrifice,” he said. “They’re forever young. They gave up all their tomorrows so we could sit here today.”
The ceremony closed with the mournful bugle call, “Taps,” played by Kyle Shiflett.
Larry Adams, wearing a USS Forrestal navy-blue baseball cap, said he’s attended the ceremony for the past 10 years to “pay tribute to the people who served.”
He then became tearful and said, “It’s tough when you got people who don’t come back.”
Several Dunwoody City Council members attended the event, as did state Attorney General Chris Carr, a Dunwoody resident, and Karen Handel, who is vying again for the 6th Congressional District seat in 2020. Handel lost to U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a Democrat, in the 2018 election.
“This is one of the best and most memorable Veterans Day celebrations that we have across our state,” Handel said of Dunwoody’s ceremony.
Handel said she is preparing for the May Republican primary and plans to tell voters that McBath is “completely disconnected from the community here in the 6th District” who votes in “lock-step with Nancy Pelosi.”
McBath hosted a Nov. 11 Veterans Day ceremony at an American Legion Post in Alpharetta to honor Vietnam veterans. Jake Orvis, McBath’s campaign spokesperson, said it was disappointing Handel “would make partisan political attacks at an event dedicated to honoring our veterans.”
“Congresswoman McBath is one of the few freshman members of Congress to have a bill signed into law by President Trump – the Haven Act – which protects veterans facing financial hardship,” Orvis said in a written statement.
Wayne Radloff, a retired Navy captain, chatted with people following the ceremony and said it was nice to see so many Dunwoody High School students attending.
“Its nice to see people and the community come together … and it’s exciting to have all the young people present,” he said.
“I reflect on the millions and millions of Americans who have served our country since its founding in 1776,” he said. “Freedom is something you earn every day.”
Bev Wingate, who has been helping organize the annual Veterans Day Ceremony for more than a decade, said veterans always appreciate when young people attend.
“It’s a beautiful reminder of what they fought for,” she said.
Photos by Dyana Bagby.