One of the largest crowds in recent memory lined Main Street Franklin on Monday to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in our nation's military. Veterans as old as 98 made the trek up town hill to walk alongside other military heroes for Franklin's annual Veteran's Day Parade.
Veterans from each war from World War II all the way to soldiers who fought on the front lines in Afghanistan, were led down Main Street by local Boy Scout troops. Amidst resounding applause and spontaneous shouts of, “Thank You,” the community gathered in support of the sacrifices not only made by our nation's veterans, but also by their families.
Reminding us to be grateful for the nation we live in, Officer Dwayne Cabe sang the National Anthem, which was followed by an invocation given by Sam Hastings.
Outgoing Mayor of Franklin Joe Collins spoke to the crowd to say that during his 11 years in office, partaking in the Veteran's Day Celebration stands as being the most meaningful event he has been a part of.
Macon County veteran Bob Litten introduced the guest speaker, former County Manager Jack Horton, citing Horton's dedication to veterans in the community through his support of developing veterans services such as the memorial park and the VA clinic.
Horton, a U.S. Navy veteran, began by saying while it would be hard to fill the shoes of other guest speakers such as Former County Commissioner Bobby Kuppers, he was honored and humbled to be asked to give the keynote address of Franklin's Veteran's Day Celebration.
“The actions of our servicemen and women have changed the course of history,” said Horton. “They have touched lives and spread freedom and democracy to nations around the world. As Americans, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our veterans, who during peace and war, have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to safeguarding the principles upon which our nation was founded.”
As done in years past, current Board of Education member and two tours of duty Vietnam veteran who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Gary Shields read the poem, “What is a Veteran?”
Shields also read excerpts from U.S. Army veteran Charles M. Province's poem, “It is the Soldier.”
“It is the Soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to protest. It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Children from South Macon Elementary school paid tribute to Macon County veterans through songs such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "This Land is Your Land."