The Bartlett Community Band, not pictured, begins to play the National Anthem as Priscilla Eclarinal pays her respects to her father’s grave at the start of the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Memphis National Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn. Her father, Chief Petty Officer Teofilo Eclarinal served for 30 years in the U.S. Navy fighting in both WWII and Korea.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Since 1919, with the end of the first world war, America has honored those who protect its freedoms. To recognize those who willingly put themselves in harm's way, Albany State University and Darton State College's Office of Military and Adult Education held separate Veterans Day celebrations Monday.
In a grassy field between busy classrooms, Albany State presented its Veterans Day program, complete with music from the ASU Concert Chorale and the University Brass Ensemble. Members of ASU's ROTC program provided the ceremony's presentation of colors.
Present at the event was Lt. Commander Christopher Williams of the U.S. Navy, who spoke of his own original purpose in choosing a naval career and how circumstances changed his outlook.
"A few months after my graduation (from the Naval Academy), the world changed," Williams said. "Sept. 11 happened. Until then, the Navy was a means to an end. It was an education that was paid for. It was a good time going to flight training, and it was a paycheck."
Williams said that, after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and further Naval service, he's gained new insight, perspective and appreciation for the military and his country.
"It's my journey in the Navy that's brought the true meaning to my service -- a nation still at war after 11 years -- the longest war in U.S. history," Williams said.
According to Williams, in addition to executing kinetic activities, today's military is involved with full-spectrum operations such as nation-building, provincial reconstruction, the building of new schools and disaster relief around the world.
"Thus the slogan: 'A Global Force for Good,'" Williams said. "It's not the weapons. The true strength of our military is the spirit and skill of the American people and the men and women who have worn the uniform."
Speaking at Darton State College's ceremony was chemistry instructor Michael Stranberg, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1980. Stranberg served in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield and in 1993 was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer-2. Strandberg's talk stressed the quality of life enjoyed by most Americans as compared to life in many other countries. Stranburg said our freedoms and conveniences would not be possible without the sacrifices of military personnel.
"You may take for granted that you have a home with electricity, a refrigerator and a lawn so you can compete with yourself or your neighbors," Stranberg said. "Or do you seek out a neighbor for a little fat to burn in your oil lamp in the evening so you can read -- if you're lucky enough to read? Your house is made of clay, and next to your house is a donkey. You don't have a yard. You have dirt."
Stranberg said citizens should think about the pets we have in America and the almost unique power we have to feed them and keep them in our homes.
"Any idea who made this possible for you?" he asked. "(Veterans) are altruistic men and women who believe in something greater than themselves. They love this country and are willing to give their all. Veterans know that without their help, America will not remain free."
Following Strasberg's address, members of Darton's Military Student Organization presented the National Roll Call, a reading of the names of Georgia fallen during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.