"I think there's a disconnect now with the military experience and the younger kids," Fortune said Saturday. He said the Army failed to meet its recruiting goal this past year for the first time in many years. "They made their retention goal, the people already in, but they're not attracting younger kids for some reason."
Fortune said the war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, has created a situation where a young recruit realizes he's got a good chance of going into action.
"I'm sure that weighs into the thought process when a young man comes out of high school," Fortune said.
On the flip side, Fortune said he was encouraged after attending a JROTC event Friday where he heard a speaker talk about going into college and hoping to come out as a commissioned Second Lieutenant. He said, "You see a young kid like that and you think there is hope for the future with our military."
The program at the fairground included a number of static displays of hardware from the Duke Museum of Military History, and collections of memorabilia from folks like Jack Martischnig who brought a German Luger from World War II and showed off German Ahnenpass documents which Hitler forced Germans to produce to show their identity with a baptism date to prove they were not Jews.
Sgt. Rico Jones and Jake Rosamond with the Army National Guard were showing off a portable mess trailer used by the Army.
"Veterans Day to me is looking back on those who served before me and paved the way to where I can serve now," Jones said. His brother and father also served, and he said they were instrumental in encouraging him to follow their path.
"Once I got in, I wanted to be able to help others," Jones, who is now a recruiter, said.
Rosamond, also a member of the National Guard, said the opportunity to further his education with the assistance of the military was what convinced him to join the Guard.
"Sgt. Jones here, he offered me a scholarship and I'll be spending my next two years as a cadet at Georgia Military College," Rosamond said.
Rome will celebrate Veterans Day, as always, at the Tomb of the Known Soldier, Charles Graves, in the plaza at the entrance to the historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery at 11 a.m. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending World War II.