Yesterday was Veterans Day.

I know we should always thank our veterans for their service and show our gratitude in a multitude of ways, but it’s still great to have a special day that’s just theirs when we honor them so visibly.

In the age of social media, it always overwhelms me (in a good way) to see social media pages flooded with photos (and oftentimes stories) that people share about a veteran in their life.

Sometimes it’s their husband, sometimes their dad, sometimes their sister or grandfather and sometimes it’s just a friend. But people take the time to share photographs and memories of someone they know who served this country and it’s pretty dang cool.

One of the things I like so much about it is that in many cases I had absolutely no idea that some of these people served in the military. Many of these men and women are retired from active duty and we tend to forget that even though they have regular jobs among us now, they once made a great sacrifice for us.

And I love seeing the photographs of veterans who are older now but who served in the prime of their youth and the photos capture them in all their vigor and strength and bravery.

I know that each year Ronda Hancock posts a photo of a young Scotty Hancock in his uniform. We know him as a county commissioner but it’s great to see him in uniform. The same goes for folks all around our community: Michael Pearson, Blake Silvers, Colin Powell, Melvin Scott, John Kendrick and Jamie Burt to name a few.

Bridgett Gray posted photos of her dad and her pop, Sonja Edmonson posted about her brothers, Tom Sipp posted a picture of his dad, Karen Armstrong posted about her songs Blake and Grant, Jamie Foster posted her husband Bill’s photo in his uniform on their wedding day, Jennifer Hopper posted a photo of her dad John Massey, Liz Hilburn posted her mom Lisa in uniform, Kelly Madden posted the four veterans in her family and Blake Kirby posted about his son, his brother and his granddaddy.

It’s incredible to see the amount of pride our community has in its veterans.

In case y’all didn’t know, Sam’s Burger Deli in Armuchee is one place you can visit to see the walls of the establishment completely covered in photos of local veterans and service men and women. I took my out-of-town friends there this past weekend and they thought it was the coolest thing that hundreds of local veterans had their photos up on the walls of the restaurant. I was very proud to be a Rome resident right then.

The Renaissance Marquis on Cedartown Highway has a Wall of Honor paying tribute to the veterans who are living there.

And in schools all across the county, students held special Veterans Day activities, with several veterans actually attending those activities and interacting with the kids. I think that’s incredibly important.

The Rome Police Department posted the photos of several veterans who now serve in a different way, as employees of the RPD. It was great to see them in their military uniforms at a different time in their lives and to know that there are several veterans who are now in law enforcement.

I know the folks at Shane’s Rib Shack (who are always good to our law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and service men and women) were giving a free meal to veterans.

Another very special gesture can be seen on the pages of Monday’s Rome News-Tribune. Each year readers can pay to have loved ones who have served (or are currently serving) recognized on special Veterans Day pages.

Some people, like Shannon resident Delane Nolan, make sure their loved ones make it in every single year. For years, Delane has made sure that her husband Hartwell and her grandson Andrew are on that page. No matter what’s happening at the time, come hell or high water, she makes sure their pictures get in that paper on Veterans Day. You can see them on page A6 of Monday’s paper. Hartwell served in the Navy from 1952 to 1975, seeing action in Korea, the Cuban Blockade and Vietnam. Andrew has been serving in the Navy since 2009.

There are other faces on those pages as well. Many are still with us, but some have gone on to another place. Those pages honor such people as Maj. Stephanie White, PCC Jerome Sams, Sgt. Wanda Horton, Lt. Col. Cole Minnick, Spc. 4 Humphrey Cole, Sgt. Don Rush, Col. Lane Turner, Sgt. Larry Dennis, Cpl. Robert Williams and many others.

There are some times when I feel like my little words can’t possibly do justice to the sentiment I’d like to convey. This is one of those times. How can one possibly express the depth of gratitude for the things veterans have done for me ... for all of us?

I once heard poet Maya Angelou say, “There’s nothing greater than ‘Thank You’. Because that is what you say to God, is Thank You.”

So that’s what I’ll say. Simply....Thank you.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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