The rain may have taken away their parade. But it didn’t dampen the spirit or enthusiasm of local citizens as they honored local veterans as part of the Armed Forces Day celebration and cookout held in Centre City Park.
The original plan was to begin the events Saturday morning, May 17, with a parade through town. An unexpected shower, however, caused organizers to cancel the parade. However, a good crowd showed up at the Centre City Park pavilion for food, fellowship, hearing from local political candidates and other activities.
One of the special guests at the event was George R. Krigbaum, state commander, American Legion Department of Alabama.
“As I told some newspaper people I was almost brought to tears coming up 411,” noted Krigbaum. “That is impressive to come up the highway and see all those beautiful flags and I just hope people understand what the white crosses were for. They were for all of our veterans that were lost through the various wars and it is just an absolute honor to be able to be here, stand here, to be able to look at those flags and realize what an honor we are trying to present to them. I know they will never know it, but they are always going to be there for our fallen comrades. I just can’t say enough about the way that presentation is when you are coming up that highway. But I am sorry about bringing the rain from Decatur. It followed me all the way in, I hate to say.”
“It is just a great pleasure to be here and an honor to be standing here,” said Krigbaum.
David Hartline, a veteran and Cherokee County native who is now serving as vice commander for the Alabama Legion Department of Alabama, spearheaded the local event.
“I am disappointed of course because the rain rained out our parade,” said Hartline. “But it didn’t rain out our spirit and it didn’t rain out our cookout. We are still having a good time.
“We have a nice crowd for a day as today is. I figure we will feed 200 or 250 people at least today. It is still evolving. They are coming in and going out. We are going to be here today until about 2 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. so I think we will do well.”
“I am satisfied,” said Hartline. “I am disappointed about the rain, but I can’t help that. I can’t do anything about it. A lt. col. on the ground cannot do anything about what God does. So thank you for your participation what you do for our veterans and our county. If it hadn’t been for you all we couldn’t have pulled this off. There is no way. Thank you.”
“We have a good crowd,” said Hartline. “It is a mixed crowd. We’ve got people from all branches of the service, all time frames, and male and female. We have quite a few local politicians that are going to be speaking to us, wannabes as we say. They will speak to us at time goes on in the afternoon.”
Jerry Baker with WEIS Radio recognized Cherokee County Commission Chairman/Probate Judge Kirk Day shared his appreciation for the day’s event as well.
“David Hartline said helped out a little bit,” said Day. “That is an understatement. He put a lot of effort and work into this. I certainly want to thank him on behalf of the county commission for the effort he has put forth and all who came today to honor our service members who are serving currently.”
“As Jerry said, I was in the military,” said Day. “I was the county’s most recent West Point graduate. I will hold that title for less than a week. Nathan Chesnut from Sand Rock High School is graduating Wednesday or Thursday. He will become the most recent, so I will have to relinquish that because that means that another young person from Cherokee County is getting the wonderful opportunity that I had.”
“You see a lot of people here who served in the military, served honorably and they laid that as a foundation for a successful life in the county,” said Day. “We certainly are very thankful to all of our servicemen and women from Cherokee County and from throughout our nation who are doing this so on behalf of the county commission, again, we owe a debt to our service members we can’t repay and we take every opportunity we can such as this to honor them. So on behalf of your county commission, thank you very much for being here. Thank you David for all you did to organize this.”
“I just wanted to echo what Kirk said,” said Cherokee County Commissioner Marcie Foster. “Thank all of you for coming. We are very thankful for all of our veterans. This is an election year and without our veterans and without the sacrifice they made, we would not live in a country where we could gather as we are here today, pray as we did before we ate and have elections later this year. So we should all be very grateful for the ones that have gone before us and those that are currently serving.”
Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver shared his admiration and respect for our veterans as well.
“I would like to tell you, thank you for what you do,” said Shaver. “I do appreciate the opportunity to talk with David, help get this set up and I really hate it the parade didn’t work out, but hopefully it will get redone.”
“I really appreciate all of our veterans,” said Shaver. “My father was a veteran. I know what it is like to deal with the veterans’ affairs office. I don’t see how those people do it because they are so short handed and that is a shame you are treated that way after every thing you do for all of us. Thank you very much.”
Hartline extended his appreciation on behalf of all of those who made the Armed Services Day celebration possible.
“There are three groups of people I especially want to thank because it couldn’t have happened without them,” said Hartline.
“First of all, there is the City of Centre. They jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I mentioned it to the mayor. He said ‘oh yeah, anything you want to do for the veterans I am on board with.’”
“This park is a city park, the pavilion is a city pavilion and they were so gracious to help us,” said Hartline.
“We had policemen, fire departments, rescue squad, all lined up to help us with the parade today. And I certainly want to thank them.”
“Next I would like to thank the radio station, WEIS,” said Hartline.
“We e couldn’t have done it without them. I want to thank the The Cherokee County Herald and Terry Dean, Scott Wright with the Cherokee Post. We couldn’t have done it without their expertise putting it in the paper and on the airways. I want to thank them.”
Hartline mentioned there were a number of vendors present. But the goal, as he explained, was not to turn the Armed Services Day celebration into a moneymaking or commercialized event. All were present to benefit veterans causes.
“Anything we are selling has something to do with veterans,” said Hartline. “DAR is getting information from veterans and they have a publication out. A few years ago they began gathering information about local veterans where they serve, when and they are trying it one more time to get the rest of them so they can do another publication and I think that is really great that we keep an archive about local veterans and the people that serve us.”
There were also representatives present from the Broken Soldiers’ Foundation and Hartline, who is also a local author, had some of his books for sale. Everything above what the books cost him goes to veterans’ causes, he said.
And Hartline, in addition to his duties as vice commander of the Alabama American Legion, continues to travel around the country speaking with various groups about his military service and other veterans’ concerns.
“As a veteran, I never tire from working with these programs,” said Hartline. “Thank you again.”