Veterans Jack Price, left, who served with the U.S. Navy from 1951-1955 and Gus Valeri who served with the Air Force from 1950-1954 salute members of the Honor Guard from the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services, Police and Sheriff’s Department during the Veterans Day tribute at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Monday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
Veterans Day Tribute in Lawrenceville
Jim Argo a U.S. Marine Corps veteran shares what Veterans Day means to him while attending the tribute at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville Monday.
LAWRENCEVILLE — As local veterans lined up for a procession into Gwinnett’s Veterans Day ceremony Monday, Ron Buice said he felt the presence of more than just the approximately 100 men and women there who served in the military.
“I feel their spirit is with us, and they are marching with us,” Buice said, referring to “our brothers on the wall,” the about 400 names of Gwinnettians killed in wars dating back to the American Revolution.
Officials and residents marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial in Lawrenceville, during Monday’s event, scheduled for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in accordance to the World War I peace decree.
But after years of ceremonies marked with the addition of names to those lost in service, County Administrator Glenn Stephens said everyone can celebrate that no local soldiers have been lost in recent months.
“It’s important that we remember on a daily basis, that we lift up in prayer those who are in active service and those who are still recovering from wounds,” Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “It is our great, great, great honor to be able to have this ceremony today.”
In a special commemoration, Vietnam-era veterans were “welcomed home” in a way that they were not during the tumultuous political times.
“I am in such awe of this incredible group of men and women,” Carolyn Buice, Ron’s wife, said of the group, which included three generations of her family. “We owe you all a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.”
Former Marine Lance Cpl. Mike Finch described his homecoming as non-existent. After serving in Vietnam, he grew his hair out and blended in at college.
After he was denied membership at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, he denied his service. But after Monday’s ceremony, he took the ceremonial welcome home ribbon to the Lawrenceville VFW post, where he formerly served as vice commander.
“I was in the Vietnam closet,” Finch said. “It feels good (to get out).”