First Posted: 7/5/2009
DOBSON From World War II to the War in Iraq, military personnel in Surry County were well-represented at the Surry County Parks and Recreation military appreciation picnic Sunday afternoon.
The event, which took place at Fisher River Park for the third year, featured music, activities for children and free food and fellowship for area military personnel, veterans and their families.
The rain held off long enough for participants to enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers and cake while listening to a presentation and some music. There was even a Playdough making station, sand art and face painting for the children there.
Were providing it just as an appreciation for the military families to provide them with a couple of hours of good music, good food and fun in the park, said Adam McComb, Surry County Parks and Recreation director. Typically everybody has a good time and brings their families down to play in the park. Its a very, very small thing we can do to show our appreciation.
Parks and Recreation officials had some help this year from the Recreation Advisory Committee, whose member volunteered to serve food, and from the Surry County Veterans Service, which helped to organize the event.
Its just our way of saying a small thank you to our troops, said Angie Thomas, assistant coordinator of the Veterans Service Office. Im lucky in that I get to work with the men and women coming back all the way to World War II. I just love my job.
She pointed out that the office is still open and trying to help veterans in Surry County.
We want the public to realize the sacrifices they make. These men and women are still keeping our country free, she said.
Norman Webb and Worth Haynes were both in the Infantry during World War II. Webb was in the 4th Infantry Division from 1944-46 and was part of the group to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
It means a lot to me, he said of being able to attend events such as the picnic and tell people he is a D-Day man. I know the good Lord spared my life long enough to get me back here. We went in on D-Day with 9,000 men and when the war was over there were less than 5,000 still living.
Haynes spent much of his time during World War II in Italy.
We had some good times, a lot of bad times, he said. I did a lot of mountain climbing. In Italy I saw a lot of interesting places and a lot I wish I hadnt seen.
Many of the veterans at the picnic participated in the Vietnam War and appreciated getting some positive recognition for what they did.
A lot of guys never got anything when they came back. Its nice even after all that time, said Paul Garber, who served in the Army from 1967-68. Its a shame we had to have another war to get all the vets recognized. They should have been all along. Im glad people are starting to recognize the value of the veterans again.
Its kind of hard to come home and get spit on and be called a murderer, said Troy Poindexter, a Vietnam veteran who served on active duty for four years and was in the reserves for two. He is the commandant of the local Marine Corps League. This is one of the greatest things they can do for all of the veterans.
Dustin Dean just returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq in September. He served in the Marines from 2004-08.
Its a different culture, thats for sure, he said of his time in Iraq. I worked in a hospital. That was an eye-opening experience right there. Ive seen the worst possible side of the war. Its still going on. I dont know what to think.
This is the first year he has attended the picnic and he appreciates the thought behind it.
Its good to see the county actually cares, he said.
Many of the veterans at the picnic expressed their appreciation to the county for hosting an event in their honor. As one of the participants put it, it is the greatest fear of veterans that history is not being taught in the schools and children do not have an appreciation for what it means to be an American and the sacrifices others make so citizens can be free. Specifically for the Vietnam veterans, it means recognition for their sacrifices.
We had a job to do just like everybody else. We were just following orders, said A.C. Shores, who served in the Army from 1969-76.
There are a number of organizations in Surry County for military personnel including local chapters of the Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.