Veterans, students celebrate county's servicemembers
by John DeFoor
Nov 13, 2011 | 1751 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the Kingston Woman’s History Club Veterans Day Observance in Kingston Park, veterans led the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, front row, from left, Bart Turner, Ricky Black, Jerry Strickland and John Jones.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Bartow County celebrated its veterans with the annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Cartersville.

Marching alongside the veterans were students from the Cass High School Marching Band as well as JROTC students from Cass and Adairsville high school.

"This is one of the highlights of the band's year," said Mack Roberts, Cass High School's band director. "It gives [the students] an opportunity to give back to the veterans."

The band performed in the parade as well as the Veterans Day ceremony held Friday. After the ceremony, students were able to share a meal with the veterans.

"When they actually get to spend some time with these veterans ... it becomes a lot more real to them," Roberts said. "The veterans are always so appreciative and willing to share the joy of freedom and the cost of freedom with our young people. For our kids to experience this makes the whole meaning of Veterans Day a lot more personal."

"Its very emotional," said Josh Vavases, percussion captain and a senior at Cass High. "My dad was in the Army and a lot of my cousins."

Rhonda Collum watched as her two boys -- Donald and Trevor Collum -- marched as members of the Cass JROTC. "They know they have their freedom because of [these veterans]," she said. Both of her sons plan to join the National Guard after high school.

Bob Poston, commander of the Vietnam Veterans of Bartow County, said the parade is important "to show that people still care for the soldiers who are serving around the world." Poston served two tours in Vietnam as a major in the Army.

"We have a lot of veterans who have served in our community," said Monica Graham, assisted living administrator at Star Manor. "We're proud of them; they've done so much for us."

Graham drove for three veterans from Star Manor, who rode in a van decorated with red and blue stars. Other veterans rode on motorcycles with American flags, in a green Humvee, and in a variety of other vehicles.

"It has a lot of personal meaning to have an opportunity to say thank you," Roberts said.

During the parade, Rhonda Column met a veteran who served in the Army during World War II and later on as a body guard to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

"I asked him if I could shake his hand and thank him. He said it was his honor and started crying."