Without the sacrifice of soldiers, city and county officials said, Monday’s special Veterans Day observance would not have been possible.
The ceremony in Leonard Park was duly attended by veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the message that their military contributions have made a crucial difference was oft-repeated.
“The freedoms that we enjoy and the wonderful community we live in would not be possible without the sacrifices of veterans,” Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy told the audience. “They’ve offered their services for our great nation, and it’s very fitting that the only Medal of Honor host city and the ‘Most Patriotic Town in America’ pauses every year on Veterans Day to pay tribute to the men and women who served in our armed forces.”
The evening included a night fireworks show, a free barbecue dinner, presentations by local Boy Scout and Cub Scout packs, plus a special flyover by the North American T-6 Texan aviation team and color guard presentations by members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1922.
County Judge John Roane, also a veteran, said Monday evening’s proceedings unfolded with a perfect measure of respect.
“I am pleased to see that the City of Gainesville and the other institutions — schools all over the county and the VFWs in the county — are doing this sort of thing,” Roane said. “And I’m extremely pleased to see the turnout that we have. It really does our old hearts good, as veterans. “
After veterans Tom Wolfe, Walter Lukenhouse, Joshua Johnson and David Nichols received special recognition from the mayor, guest speaker Mike Compton, the county’s outgoing sheriff, delivered a special address.
District 68 State Rep. Drew Springer said the ceremony served as a fine reminder of why Gainesville received a special “Most Patriotic Town in America” this past summer.
“It’s great to see everybody out on the start of an early winter night to support our veterans who served to give us the freedoms to do everything that we’re doing,” he said.