Starting with a morning parade in uptown Wadesboro and ending with an outdoor celebration and free food at Ray Shelton Ball Field, Anson County spent most of the day on Monday honoring its veterans.
Although a light drizzle lingered in the air, a large crowd turned out for the parade at 10 a.m., which featured local veterans riding with family members in cars marked “Anson County Veteran,” fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles and Buffalo Soldiers on horseback. The crowd waved flags and signs that read “THANK YOU” as the veterans passed.
After the parade, the crowd and the veterans gathered in front of the Anson County Courthouse for the annual Veterans Day ceremony. Master of Ceremonies Mike Turner, a U.S. Army veteran, welcomed all the spectators and the veterans to the courthouse square, followed by an invocation from fellow Army veteran Rev. Steve Hill of Gum Springs Baptist Church. Amvets Post 316 presented the nation’s colors, and Brenda Pratt sang a live rendition of the National Anthem. U.S. Marine Corps veteran James Kiser led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Navy veteran Dusty Moser gave a welcome address.
Horace Buchanon, an Army veteran, spoke next, giving some Veterans Day history. “What is a veteran?” Buchanon said. “It is a man or a woman who wrote a blank check, up to and including his or her life, in service of their country.”
Buchanon explained that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1918, when the treaty to end World War I was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Later, it came to be known as Veterans Day. The county ceremony was held on Monday, since Nov. 11 fell on a Sunday this year. Anson County has played “a significant role” in all of our country’s wars, Buchanon said, including the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and most recently, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Buchanon recognized all veterans from each branch of service, before County Commission Chair Anna Baucom spoke briefly to thank the veterans for their service to the country and to Anson County.
Veterans Services Officer Ted Ward then presented Anson County’s first-ever Veteran of the Year Award. There were seven nominees for the award, Ward explained, and the criteria included that the individual be a resident of Anson County, be a veteran and be active in community service.
All seven nominees were recognized with plaques, and they were: Milas Cason, Jake Hanna, Anthony Hall, Charles Boyle, Charles Wilson, John Chandler (who was not present) and James Tyler Bennett. The winner of the Veteran of the Year was Charles Boyle, one of seven World War II veterans in attendance.
Speaker for the ceremony was Dale Nelson, a U.S. Navy veteran and recent N.C. Senate candidate.
Nelson, a combat veteran in the Vietnam War, said, “Some of us didn’t come home, but those who did are pillars of the community.” He said that most veterans are recognized for fighting in the major wars, but any member of the military, past or present, has risked being shot for wearing an American uniform. “If someone shot at you where you stand today, and someone from Anson County volunteered to stand between you and the bullet, how would you feel?” Nelson asked. “Grateful.”
He added that the names of Anson County’s veterans read like a phone book of familiar names. “They were young people, black and white, and they fought for us,” he said.
After Nelson’s speech, Staff Sgt. Ryan Burris, of the National Guard laid a wreath at the veterans memorial on the courthouse grounds, and Amvets Post 316 provided the 21-gun salute.
Anson County Commissioner Jarvis Woodburn gave a few closing remarks. “We are eternally grateful for everyone who has served and is serving,” he said. “These people laid their lives on the line for us and our freedom.”
The celebration of Anson veterans continued with a cookout at the Ray Shelton Ball Field, which included live music, free flu shots and healthcare sign-ups for veterans, military equipment displays and the Buffalo Soldiers.
For more photos from the Veterans Day parade and ceremony, visit The Anson Record’s Facebook page.