A patriotic parade winding its way from Veteran’s Park to the Mount Airy War Memorial kicked off Mount Airy’s Veteran’s Day celebration on Saturday.
The parade was complete with marching veterans, veterans in vehicles, high school marching bands, floats, Boy Scouts, a candidate campaigning for office and a vintage truck for sale.
Following the parade, a program honoring veterans took place in front of the War Memorial. Surry County Commissioner Larry Phillips unveiled a plan for Surry County to assist veterans seeking employment with the county, but the biggest response from the crowd came during closing remarks by Dale Badgett, president of Surry County Veterans Council.
Badgett, retired from the US Air Force, prefaced his remarks as politically incorrect and possibly unwelcome, but that assessment proved incorrect as he earned a round of applause and a partial standing ovation from the audience when he denounced protests that dishonor the flag and national anthem.
“Veteran’s Day is not about politics. It goes past politics,” said Badgett. “We served so they have that right,” he said of protesters (whose identity he did not specify) and urged them to find another way. Badgett dismissed claims that protests are not intended to dishonor the flag, because he spent 28 and a half years wearing that flag.
“I’m tired of it,” he said, at which point a round of applause broke out and some people rose to their feet.
Earlier in the program, Commissioner Phillips said that North Carolina has the seventh highest veteran’s population in the nation, with 4,500 of those veterans living in Surry County. He chose the Veteran’s Day program to announce a new initiative by the county to facilitate the efforts of veterans seeking employment by the county.
He said veterans would be able to go to Mike Scott, director of Surry County Veteran services, who would be able to help them “unpack” their skill set so it could be understood by a civilian in a hiring capacity.
Phillips said that during their service, veterans learn skills important to employers, but often lack the ability to express those skills in a way that a civilian can understand. He said that veterans applying for employment fill their resume or job application with military jargon that is meaningless to the civilians who are often doing the hiring. Veterans need help in unpacking that skill set.
He said the applications would then go to Sandra Snow, in charge of human resources for the county, who would keep the veterans information on file for future hiring. Surry County employs 45 veterans, 6% of its workforce, according to Phillips, who said he wanted it to be more.
“Veterans are an asset to any business,” said Phillips, adding they should not come home to unemployment.
Mount Airy Commissioner Shirley Brinkley stood in for the mayor and read a proclamation calling Saturday Veteran’s Day.
She then read some remarks from a veteran reflecting on his 25 and a half years of service, whose identity she only revealed after the reading.
The piece was written by her son, David Brinkley, who wrote primarily of the veterans who do not survive their service but finished up by saying, “There is no other profession in the United States, with the exception of law enforcement and firefighters, in which by virtue of our oath, we volunteer to lay down our lives so others may live. We volunteer our lives so others may live in freedom.”
Brinkley’s reading of her son’s remarks concluded with a quote from George Orwell. “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men (and women) stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.