Long County residents filled Veterans Stadium in Ludowici on Friday to show their support for area veterans.
Charlie Smith welcomed the crowd and thanked the veterans in attendance for serving and protecting the nation. World War II veterans Pete Gordon, Robert Chapman, Roy Harrison, Willie Milton, John Baker, Clinton Boyd Sr., Nathaniel Carter, Tommie Wingate Jr. and Willie Ruff were specially honored.
The Rev. Tom Gardner, standing on a stage decorated with posters and artwork created by Smiley Elementary School students, gave the invocation, and Smith led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Long County High School chorus sang the National Anthem, and Mary Anne Cabbage sang “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Retired Army Reservist Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Arnold, who served as the keynote speaker, explained how Veterans Day came to be and expressed pride in being a veteran himself. More than 22 million veterans have served in the U.S. armed forces, according to Arnold, who added that the nation owes its freedom to their service.
In honor of their service, each of the veterans’ names were read aloud, and American flags bearing the veterans’ names were placed on the football field.
Representatives from several local churches and civic organizations came out to show their support. The Elim Baptist Praise team, the First Baptist Church of Ludowici Children’s Choir, the Macedonia Baptist Church, Long County Recreation Department players and cheerleaders, Deris Kent and Julie Skipper entertained the crowd with performances to honor veterans.
In addition to the entertainment, attendees enjoyed Brunswick stew, crab stew, sausage dogs, coffee and hot cocoa, which, on a cool night, proved popular. All of the proceeds from the celebration will benefit the construction of a veterans memorial in Ludowici.
Earlier that day, Walker Middle School hosted a breakfast for approximately 250 veterans, and Long County High School honored active-duty military members and veterans with a ceremony.