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City event to honor veterans

The community will come together Friday to say thanks to all those who’ve served in the U.S. military during an annual program featuring special music, remarks by officials and patriotism all around.

Mount Airy’s Veterans Day service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in its longtime location at the city war memorial on the corner of South Main and Rockford streets.

“There’s a parade, too,” said Mark Barr, one of the program’s organizers. “It pulls out from Veterans Memorial Park at 9:30 a.m.”

That procession featuring floats manned by military groups and other units will make its way to the downtown area preceding the formal program.

The event at the war memorial offers an opportunity to honor all military men and women, according to organizers, who have assembled an array of groups and service personnel to help accomplish that. Mount Airy and Surry County government officials also will be part of the occasion.

Students from North Surry High School have become a fixture at such events in the city, including both Veterans Day and Memorial Day observances, and this will again be the case on Friday.

A flag-folding ceremony by the North Surry Air Force Junior ROTC unit is planned along with the performing of the national anthem by the school’s Greyhound Sounds chorale group, which also will render a service song medley.

That medley recognizes veterans from all military branches and is always a hit among those attending the program.

Ex-military members often do their part by wearing clothing highlighting their service, with American flags also amply displayed by crowd members.

Everyone is invited to attend Friday’s program, which will be moved to the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church in case of inclement weather. The church is located nearby at 326 S. Main St.

“It’s about the veterans,” Barr added Saturday in discussing the intent of the service.

Barr has long been part of local Veterans Day observances. One thing that is gratifying to him is the involvement of young people who are enthusiastic about recognizing those who have served and seeing the importance of this both now and for the future.

“They’re learning and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Barr observed. “They know never to forget.”

This is a special tribute unto itself.

“There’s no doubt about it, the veterans love seeing it,” Barr of the youths’ presence. “It gives them hope for the future.”

Program schedule

• Friday’s service will begin with opening remarks by local radio station owner Kelly Epperson, the longtime emcee of the city Veterans Day event;

• An invocation is to be delivered by Jon Cawley of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners;

• The national anthem is then scheduled to be sung by the North Surry High School Greyhound Sounds, before a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by everyone in attendance;

• Next on the program is Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland, who will offer welcoming remarks and read a city Veterans Day proclamation;

• Guest speakers including Bill Goins, a county commissioner; Surry Sheriff Steve Hiatt; and Staff Sgt. William Arnder, a North Carolina National Guard recruiter, then will deliver their respective addresses;

• This leads up to the medley of service songs by the North Surry High School Greyhound Sounds;

• The flag-folding ceremony by the North Surry Air Force JROTC students will take place after that;

• Closing remarks are to be offered by Grant Thayer, president of the Surry County Veterans Council and past commander of local Marine Corps League Detachment 1322.

In addition to program participants, police, fire and rescue squad members play a big role in the annual program with traffic control and other functions, organizers stress.

“It’s big day,” Barr said.



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