A Veterans Day to remember

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, November 28, 2013

To the Editor:

Veterans Day 2013 edged its way into the local history of Polk County by virtue of the grand celebration provided by local citizens with speeches, dinners and a large parade.

Never before has there been such an undertaking to honor our local veterans. There are so many local citizens to thank for this most gratifying event staged in North Carolina’s second smallest county, which along with 60 others, was nationally recognized by Veterans Administration as a “Veterans Community.” Quite an honor!

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Who would believe that one of America’s most decorated generals would pass other invitations to spend a day walking the streets of Columbus to mingle with our citizens. General James Livingston said, “I feel at home today.”

He did not come alone, as the 82nd Army Airborne Band from Fort Bragg and the prestigious 440th N.C. National Guard Band from Raleigh marched smartly close behind.

Tryon’s Bill Hillhouse secured some 52 units to fill the parade’s mile-long route.

Spectators loudly welcomed the Polk County High School Band as well as North Greenville University’s Crusaders Marching Band, joined by several elite military units including the RS ROTC Marine unit from Rutherford County’s High School.

Joining General Livingston on the dais was our own Col. Otis Livingston, Major Frank Ortiz and Don Lyons, three of the many local volunteers that made possible this superb eventful day.

The many spectators were able to meet many of our local veterans marching before them dressed in their respective uniforms or riding in vans provided by local centers such as Tryon Estates or LaurelHurst and followed by Polk County’s senior citizens vans.

The parade ended at the Veterans Memorial Park in Columbus, concluding with a speech by the 1980 winner of the Medal of Honor.

General Livingston’s eloquent remarks held the large crowd spellbound. He mentioned the bravery of men and women in uniform coming from the small communities such as ours to answer the call to defend America’s freedom when they were in jeopardy.

Along the parade route, applauding citizens stood tall to thank some 2,500 veterans that live in our county. They shook hands with those that were present and openly thanked those that were not able to come to the park.

What a great day it was for our county and certainly a Veterans Day to remember.

– John Land Johnson, Tryon