EATONTON, Ga. — A special ceremony honoring local men and women who either serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces was held Wednesday morning in honor of their service, sacrifice and bravery at the Putnam County Veterans Wall of Honor Park in Eatonton.
The special ceremony was held under the Life Source Pavilion under the threat of a rainstorm. The pavilion is adjacent to the beautiful park that was built six years ago to honor past, present and future local veterans for their selfless duty to America.
The program on Veterans Day was jointly sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6686 and the American Legion Post 583.
This year’s Veterans Day ceremony was different than any in the past in that it was held during the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic. Many people who attended the event, which included Eatonton Mayor John Reid and Putnam County Commission Chairman Billy Webster, wore masks as advised by health care experts.
Jim F. Willis, who serves as president of the Veterans Wall of Honor Park Inc., welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Several of the group’s officers attended, along with members of the group’s board of directors.
An invocation was later provided by Gene Roberts.
“Oh mighty God, father of us all, we, your servants turn to you for continuance of blessings upon us,” Roberts prayed. “You, who have spared us, veterans, from the grasps of our enemies, grant us the full understanding of your precious comfort. We thank you for the privileges of life and the blessings we enjoy through your graciousness in our country, the land in which we are given the freedom of speech, religion, and the pursuit of happiness. Assist us to know you better and pursue the happiness, wisdom and knowledge you as the God of the universe and our idea. In your mercy, may we, the living, find our peace, grant us from above this day the challenge of high endeavor, the beauty of the humble spirit, strong courage and will without exertion. We continue to glorify you and love you until the end of time. And father, as we ask these blessings on the veterans, I also ask the blessings on the loved ones, family and friends that take care of the veterans that can’t care for themselves. We thank you, and pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Students from Putnam County High School’s Junior Army ROTC Color Guard posted the colors, while the National Anthem was sung by Loretta Hampton.
Retired Air Force Colonel Patricia Ross was later introduced as the guest speaker at the ceremony.
Ross retired from the Air Force in 2016 after 25 years of active service. Her last assignment in the Air Force was as vice commander of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.
Ross transitioned to become the first military affairs director for the Technical Transition Resource Center. She was hired as their first executive director and has served as their chief operating officer for nearly five years.
Ross also is in her second term as the chairman of the Georgia Veteran Service Board. She also serves on two national boards with the Georgia Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as numerous local boards.
“I am amazed at this crowd with the impending rain, and I did pray that it would stop raining, so God did hear my prayer and it stopped raining,” Ross said. “I’m honored and very blessed to be in front of you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me to be in front of such an esteemed group of military veterans and their families.”
Ross said it was amazing.
“And I thank you for being here,” added Ross, who was invited as the special guest this year by Bob Landeau, one of the founders of the Putnam County Veterans Wall of Honor Park.
Ross said she enjoys helping to get military members, veterans and their families on the right path after they transition.
“And that can be anywhere from those getting ready to transition because we have training programs that target our military within their last six months on active duty,” Ross said.
The training program offers skillsets for those wanting to educate themselves and seeking employment.
A variety of other services also are offered to help veterans, she said.