Veterans were honored and remembered at Mount Airy’s annual Veterans Day celebration that included a parade and ceremony on Saturday.
The parade ended near the Mount Airy War Memorial, where special remarks and activities honored local veterans.
Kelly Epperson was the master of ceremonies for the program. Mayor Deborah Cochran read a proclamation declaring Sunday Veterans Day in the city of Mount Airy.
“You’ve seen people across the nation supporting our troops and their families when they go to war. You welcome them when they come home. You volunteer and serve in jobs that give other veterans the care they deserve and when America’s heroes are laid to rest, you are there as a reminder of their service, sacrifice, courage and contributions to our grateful nation,” said Epperson.
He then read a passage from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address as the Civil War was ending.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations,” read Epperson.
He said those words have stood the test of time and still serve today to remember to never forget veterans — those in the nation’s defense and the families of those who have died in its service.
“Veterans, you have done your duty — to your families, to your communities and to your country. You have honorably served your nation with great distinction. And we can never say it enough — for your service in war and in peace,” said Epperson.
Herb Joyce, the American Legion Honor Guard chaplain, delivered the invocation.
The national anthem was sung by the Tri-M Music Honors Chorus of Mount Airy High School.
Mike Thorpe, former commander of the local American Legion, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Epperson then recognized commanders of local military and auxiliary organizations.
Dr. David Shockley, the president of Surry Community College, who is a military veteran, was the guest speaker for the program. Shockley is a former member of the U.S. Marines who served as a combat engineer specializing in demolitions.
“Today, we honor you for the service you have given to our nation, to the world. As the president of Surry Community College, I am so proud that we have been recognized by the Veterans Administration as being a military friendly college,” said Shockley. “We must not lose sight of this as we have so many veterans who need our services and we are honored and humbled to do so.”
He said during his time as a new Marine, he wasn’t convinced that they weren’t trying to kill him until week four. He also mentioned that as a Marine, he loved the Navy, because they always gave them a ride wherever they needed to go.
He recently made a trip to Washington, D.C., where it touched his soul to see the monuments that honor military personnel.
“I view these places as sacred because of the sacrifices that have been given throughout the history of this nation. Through trails and tribulations, our veterans became forged into steel through the refiner’s fire as a nation made up of strong individuals, together we become as hardened steel but with a consciousness of righteousness,” Shockley said.
“We are blessed to live in the greatest nation that has ever existed. I am reminded of the Gulf War and the events of Sept. 11. We must remember who we are, where we came from and the sacrifices that were made for our benefit. We owe our veterans our deepest gratitude. We must never forget those who have served. We must remember. We must remember,” he concluded.
Shockley’s speech was followed by a wreath-laying at the memorial, which lists the names of Surry County’s war dead, that was led by Nolan Boyles and Mayor Cochran.
A flag-folding ceremony by North Surry High School Air Force JROTC members was held.
To conclude the program, there was a gun salute and the playing of “Taps” by an American Legion Post 123 Honor Guard member.
Reach Mondee Tilley at mtilley@firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.