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Grayson celebrates Veterans Day

Grayson residents listen during the music portion of the Veterans Day program at the city’s senior center Monday. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

Grayson residents listen during the music portion of the Veterans Day program at the city’s senior center Monday. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

GRAYSON — Grayson celebrated Veterans Day with a special ceremony honoring those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms the nation enjoys.

Headed by Mayor Jim Hinkle, who retired as a major in the Marine Corps, the ceremony had music, stories and more than 100 who attended honoring those who served.

“We’ve fought in many wars, and lost many men and women,” Hinkle said, “but we are still free. There is nothing greater than freedom.”

Veterans attending the ceremony came from all branches. Some were World War II veterans who stormed beaches in the Pacific or fought in the European theater. Others participated in the Forgotten War in Korea, while others were involved in the jungles of Vietnam and one of the wars in the Middle East.

“Seven percent of the population, or 21 million people, have a story to tell,” said Loganville city councilman Rey Martinez, a Naval reservist who was the guest speaker at the event.

During his talk, Martinez talked about the “Missing-Man Table,” set up on display to bring the realization that there are some who never returned home.

“The tablecloth is white representing the purity of their intentions,” he said. “The single rose reminds us of their families they left behind. Although they are missing, they are not forgotten.”

Martinez also asked the crowd what a veteran was. The dictionary’s definition that a veteran is someone who served in the armed forces, but that wasn’t good enough for the 25-year Navy veteran who is set to retire in 2014.

“A veteran is someone who at one point wrote a blank check to the United States of America for up to and in the amount of their life,” he said.

The ceremony also included various songs, including a melody by the group Right Side Up that included “This is My Country,” “Yankee Doodle” and “Grand Ole Flag.” Another group, Just Friends, played a service medley featuring all of the service songs. When each service song was played, veterans from that branch were asked to stand.

“It’s just a great time to honor those who served,” Hinkle said. “We’re thankful for all those who have served.”