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Business determined to thank veterans more
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 46 commander Garlon Penland talks with fellow veterans over lunch at an appreciation luncheon. - photo by Alena Parker / Coastal Courier
Veterans often hear "thanks" on Veterans Day. But a local car dealership hosted an appreciation luncheon April 18 to show Nov. 11 is not the only day to thank a vet.
Ralph Dixon, lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans and member Vietnam Veterans of America, enjoyed the NeSmith Chevrolet sponsored luncheon with his wife Jackie and was grateful to be recognized.
"They're interested in doing things for the veterans, for the job that they have done protecting America," Dixon said. "And we appreciate what organizations like these do for veterans."
Dixon began "protecting America" when he enlisted in the Army in 1949. He served overseas and fought in the Vietnam and Korean wars.
During the Vietnam War many returning soldiers were often mistreated or scorned. So Dixon knows how important it is to be properly welcomed home.
The local veteran organizations have made it a priority to be present at the Fort Stewart welcome home ceremonies and during the dedication ceremonies on Warriors Walk, commemorating fallen soldiers.
"We show up out there and be part of the recognition of the veterans that have lost their lives," Dixon explained. "It is an honor to be able to honor soldiers who are currently serving with a welcome home ceremony."
NeSmith sales consultant Jerry Graves addressed the veterans about his service in Vietnam and Desert Storm. He also echoed the importance of crediting veterans for their service and sacrifice.
"One thing I've come to realize...most Vietnam vets have never been thanked for one wanted to be around any of us," Graves said.
"We've been more thankful in the last year and a half than we've ever been," he said. "And it took another war to do it."
DAV member Paul Spence talked about his most cherished memories while serving and being a veteran.
"What memories that stick with me the most is my three tours in Vietnam," Spence said. "You can understand that, but people on the outside may not understand me saying that."
NeSmith sales manager Lamar Barnes also thanked the veterans. He told them they have "done a job that I probably wouldn't have had the courage to do."
"The veteran and the elderly are sometimes the most mistreated people in the world because they think you don't matter," Barnes said. "But you matter to us."
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