Monday is not a popular day, but it will be different this Monday when veterans take center stage in Mount Airy through annual activities boasting color, ceremony and praise for their service.
Included are a morning parade through the downtown area and a program at the city war memorial. The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and proceed down North Main Street, with a variety of patriotic activities including a gun salute to be part of the 11 a.m. formal program.
“It’s just a great day on the calendar for us old shipmates and Army guys, Marines and flyboys,” said the Rev. Dr. David Sparks, who will be the keynote speaker for the program.
Sparks served in the U.S. Navy from 1962-66 and as a reservist two years after that.
He believes Veterans Day is an all-inclusive occasion to honor everyone who has served, saying this will be reflected in his remarks, and urges past and present military personnel to be on hand Monday.
“I will remind all the veterans, and the non-veterans, that wherever they served, whether it was stateside, in the Mideast or World War II, they did an important job,” said Sparks, the pastor of Flat Rock Pentecostal Holiness Church.
He will offer a special message to the veterans at the gathering highlighting “the sights and the sounds and the smells and things that went on when we went into boot camp — just a nostalgic look back and reliving memories.”
Monday’s activities at the war memorial at the intersection of South Main and Rockford streets, to include Kelly Epperson in a familiar role as master of ceremonies, will observe this schedule:
• The raising of the flag by the North Surry Junior ROTC, led by Lt. Col. John Bowes;
• A singing of the national anthem featuring the Tri-M Music Honor Society from Mount Airy High School;
• The Pledge of Allegiance led by former Mayor Jack Loftis, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps;
• An invocation by Herb Joyce, chaplain of the local American Legion Honor Guard;
• Welcoming remarks and the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Deborah Cochran;
• Recognition of commanders of local military organizations and their ladies auxiliaries by Epperson;
• The special address by Sparks;
• A reading of a veteran-themed essay by the winner of an annual contest of Surry County Schools, Jacob Whitaker, an eighth-grader at Central Middle School.
• The laying of a wreath at the war memorial by Mayor Cochran and Carlyle Whitaker, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Mount Airy;
• A flag-folding ceremony by the North Surry Junior ROTC;
• A gun salute and the playing of “Taps” by the VFW Memorial Honor Guards of Post 2019 in Mount Airy and Post 9436 in Pilot Mountain.
Cochran encourages everyone to come out Monday in support of military personnel.
“Let’s show them we still care by attending the ceremony at the war memorial,” she commented. “Veterans have sacrificed much more than their time. The good they have done for this country can’t be erased. You can’t put a price on freedom.”
While its citizens enjoy all America has to offer, veterans and those presently serving have “put on their armor to protect us,” the mayor added.
The scheduling of Veterans Day programs at 11 a.m. each Nov. 11 is based on the signing of the armistice to end World War I in France in 1918, which took effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The Monday morning parade will feature World War II veteran Thurmond Midkiff, 89, as grand marshal.
In addition to distinguished service as a member of the Army’s 34th Infantry Division, Midkiff has been chaplain and Honor Guard commander of Mount Airy VFW Post 2019. This has included leading military honors at more than 1,000 funerals.
The annual procession also usually includes high school marching bands and the presence by local veterans organizations and other walking units.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.