Veterans Day is always a memorable occasion, but this year’s observance of the holiday in Mount Airy will be even more special, organizers say.
A joining of marching band members from all local high schools and a keynote address by Surry County’s new veterans services officer will be among the highlights of the Wednesday event in downtown Mount Airy.
“I really think it’s going to be good,” Rawley King, local American Legion Honor Guard commander, said of the slate of activities planned.
“All the Surry County schools, and Mount Airy High School, are coming together to have one big band,” said King, who organized the event along with fellow Honor Guard members.
The band performers will be among participants in a Veterans Day parade that is set before a formal program at 11 a.m. at the city war memorial at the corner of South Main and Rockford streets.
“We should have a heck of a band to come through there,” said King, who added that he believes Wednesday will be the first time a countywide band has been assembled for such an occasion.
The parade also will feature patriotic floats, scout groups and additional entries.
Floats and other motorized units are to assemble at Veterans Memorial Park at 10 a.m. Wednesday, then proceed to North Main Street, where walking participants will join them at the Triangle area just south of the Lebanon Street intersection.
From there, the parade will head through the downtown area in time for the 11 a.m. ceremony.
“It’s Veterans Day, and everybody ought to come out and support the men and women who are fighting for our country and all those in the past,” King said.
Modern military personnel are undergoing tremendous stress as a result of multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. “We are in critical times right now,” King said.
Since Veterans Day 2008, two area servicemen have died in the line of duty. Lt. Leevi Barnard — a member of the North Carolina National Guard from Ararat, Va., who had ties to Surry County — was killed in Iraq in May. Army Capt. Mark Garner, a 1997 graduate of Elkin High School, died in July in Afghanistan.
The traditional 11 a.m. ceremony on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year is in remembrance of when the Armistice was signed ending World War I in 1918.
Master of Ceremonies Kelly Epperson will welcome everyone to the gathering at the city war memorial Wednesday morning, with an invocation to be delivered by Herb Joyce, chaplain of the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 123.
Epperson then will recognize local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans commanders and their ladies auxiliaries.
Next, remarks will be offered by guest speakers including Mayor Jack Loftis; Ashley Hinson, superintendent of Surry County Schools; and Dave Irby, service officer for the Disabled American Veterans in Mount Airy.
The keynote address then is scheduled by Mike Scott, new veterans service officer for Surry County, who also will recognize Gold Star mothers, those who have lost sons in military service.
A traditional wreath-laying is to be led by Denny Holder, vice commander of American Legion District 18, with a flag-folding ceremony scheduled afterward by the North Surry JROTC.
The national anthem will be rendered by JoAnn Hines and the raising of the flag is to be conducted by the East Surry High School JROTC.
A 21-gun salute and “Taps” will be offered by the American Legion Honor Guard to conclude the program.
The weather is expected to cooperate, with Wednesday’s forecast calling for mostly sunny skies and high temperatures in the upper 50s.
“I hope we have a good turnout,” King said.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.