Veterans Proclamation
October 28, 2008 - Back Row - American Legion and VFW Commander Henry Watson, Department of Veterans Services Blairsville Manager Bob Spaulding, and DAV Commander Jimmy Morrison. Front Row - Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris and Blairsville Mayor Jim Conley

Paris signs Veterans Proclamation in Blairsville, Georgia

Dora Spiva

December 18, 2007 - Veterans in Blairsville, Georgia honor Dora Spiva for 85 years of service

Dora Spiva was recently presented an Award of Appreciation for 85 years of dedicated service with the 9th District American Legion Auxiliary. Upon her acceptance of the plaque from Ann Parks and Helen Hansen, Dora Spiva received a standing ovation with everyone present expressing sincere admiration and support.

Along with Ms. Spiva, over 70 people attended the 2007 Annual Veteran's Christmas Party at United Community Bank's Brackett Building in Union County. Veteran's from several organizations, including the VFW, the American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America, and the North Georgia Honor Guard were present at the event. All branches of the United States military were represented including the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

There was never a dull moment at the Christmas party. Bob Woodstock opened the ceremony with introductions. Larissa Shook kept things moving along with exciting door prizes and raffle items including a skill saw and DVD player.

Music Man Sam Ensley entertained the crowd with songs and original lyrics including, "I saw the Olympic torch from Buckwheat's front porch," and "my truck of many colors made of parts that Nutt sold to me." (If you are from Union or Towns County , you have to hear this song.)

Twelve year old Carli Kidd sang a heartwarming version of "Away in a Manger." Next on the lineup was Missie Kirkland singing "O' Holy Night." Ms. Kirkland's beautiful voice mesmerized the audience and was a great way to top off the evening.

The delicious meal was catered by Grinds and Glazes. Thumbs up to the cook and catering staff. The Veterans' Christmas Party was a great success. Thanks to the many dedicated people that helped make the evening a memorable occasion.

Veterans' Day Luncheon

November 10, 2007 - Veterans Day Program in Blairsville, Georgia honors our local heroes

The Veterans Day program is a traditional event to honor local Veterans. The program includes the Honor Ceremony of Hats, the Commanders Award presentation, patriotic speeches, prayer, good food, and fellowship.

Moderator, Commander of VFW Post 7394, Robert Woodstock welcomed everyone to the recent 2007 Veterans' Day Program and invited Chaplin Bob Huggins, 2006 Commanders Award recipient, to conduct the Invocation. Following the prayer, the North Georgia Honor Guard began the Honor Ceremony of Hats while a soft drum roll played in the background.

Hats are placed at six place settings. The empty places represent men missing from each of the five Services - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the missing Merchant Marine civilians. The Honor Ceremony of Hats symbolizes that the missing are still with us in spirit.

At the conclusion of the Hats Ceremony, Bob Woodstock offered a toast to America 's Prisoners of War, all those Missing in Action, and to the success of efforts to account for them.

Another highlight of the Veterans' Day Program was the presentation of the Commanders Awards. Due to a tie, there were two recipients this year. One Commanders Award was presented to VFW Sr.Vice Cmdr. Robert H. Little by Commander of the American Legion, Henry Watson. Another Commanders Award was presented to VFW Surgeon William H. Cross by Commander of the Disabled American Veterans, Jimmy Morrison.

The Commanders Award is presented annually to a worthy Veteran who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to the community and to the Veterans' Organizations throughout the year. The Commanders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Disabled American Veterans nominate and vote on the candidates, then decide unanimously to whom this prestigious award will be presented. Due to the high number of qualified candidates in 2007, a decision was difficult and a tie was declared. Congratulations go to Bill Cross and Bob Little.

Next on the agenda was a delicious buffet lunch catered by Joan Drake of Cobb's Mill Restaurant and a moving speech by guest speaker, SPC Chuck Honaker, U.S. Army Ret. Honaker said, "Today we honor the contributions and sacrifices of the nearly 25 million Veterans living today who have served our country in the name of liberty and justice." Honaker continued, "It is time for our nation to put aside partisan bickering and be united in the global war on terrorism so that our children and their children will not have to live in fear of another 9-11. I t sounds very cliché but united we will stand or divided we will fall. The majority of our military believes in the global war on terrorism and our mission in the Middle East . T hey , and I, believe that this war can be won." In conclusion, Honaker summed it all up, " On this day our country gives thanks for the service of America 's Veterans and to their accomplishments. If you are ever asked, 'Just what is it Veterans have done?' I would respond simply with this - 'Around the world, veterans have broken the shackles of tyranny, unloosed the chains of bondage, and emancipated entire nations from oppression.' V eterans have lifted the cloak of darkness, oppression, and desperation and vanquished cruelty and totalitarianism and replaced it with an inextinguishable light that is the spirit of freedom and liberty." With these words Honaker received a standing ovation.

In August 2003, while serving as a gunner, SPC Honaker was injured in Iraq when an Improvised Explosive Device blew up next to his HumVee. Chuck was retired in September 2004 and awarded a Purple Heart. He is an active member of the VFW, American Legion, DAV, Military Order of Purple Heart, and the "House of Prayer" Church.

Nearing the conclusion of the Veterans' Day Program, Woodstock again took the podium, "As we leave here today, let us turn words into action by honoring our obligations to our Veterans, just as they honored their obligations to all of us. Make it a point, not just today but every day, to thank them for everything they have done, and are doing, to make this a safer and more peaceful world. On this Veterans' Day we respect you, we honor you and I salute you!"

Bob Woodstock

November 15, 2006 - Veteran's Day Luncheon in Blairsville, Georgia stirs emotions

A Veteran's Day Luncheon was recently held to recognize all U.S. veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines. Many veterans and dignitaries attended the event including State Representative Charles Jenkins and Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris.

Commander of VFW Post 7394, Bob Woodstock, acted as Master of Ceremonies. He began the program by inviting Senior Chaplin of the North Georgia Honor Guard Legionnaire Bob Huggins to conduct the Invocation.

Woodstock then recognized the men and women who serve our country by defending and preserving freedom and liberty. Woodstock said, "The sacrifices and accomplishments made by today's generation of patriots are many and serve as a reminder that tyranny and evil will never prevail."

Major General Jere H. Akins was guest speaker. Akins served in the Army from 1959 to 1992 where he held a wide variety of important command and staff positons including Assistant Commandant of the United States Army Quartermaster School and Assistant Chief of Staff C/J/G-4, Republic of Korea and Eight United Army. Major General Akins gave a moving speech where he expressed great pride in being an American. His speech ended with a standing ovation.

An Honor Ceremony of Hats was also part of the agenda. Accompied by a drum roll, members of the Honor Guard placed hats at six place settings on the table of honor. Woodstock explained what everything meant. "This table is reserved to honor our missing loved comrades. Set for six, the empty places represent our men missing from each of the five Services including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine Civilians. This Honor Ceremony symbolizes that they are still with us here in spirit. The table is round to show our everlasting concern for our men who are still missing. The cloth is white symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. The single red rose reminds us of the life of each of the missing , their loved ones and friends who kept the faith awaiting answers. The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbolizing our continued determination to account for our missing. A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers. The Bible represents the strength gained through faith, to sustain those lost from our country founded as one nation under God. The glass is inverted to symbolize their inability to share in today's toast. The chairs are empty because THEY are missing."

The event was charged with emotion as Jimmy Morrison and Henry Watson came forward to join Bob Woodstock in presenting the prestigious Commander's Award to Chaplin of American Legion Post 121 and Senior Chaplin of the North Georgia Honor Guard, Legionnaire Robert Huggins.

Veterans unable to attend the luncheon were also recognized and silent prayers were offered for those who passed away throughout the past year. Past Prisoners of War were recognized next, as were decorated heroes.

Before thanking everyone that made the event possible, Bob Woodstock made an important request, "As we leave here today, let us turn words into action by honoring our obligations to our Veterans...Make it a point, not just today but every day, to thank them for everything they have done, and are doing, to make this a safer and more peaceful world." With that said and done, Woodstock gave an official salute.

This years's Veteran's Day Program was held in the Brackett Room of United Community Bank. Many thanks to Teresa Dorton and United Community Bank for the use of their facility. Thanks also to Command Sergeant Major Roy Hamby, Mr. Bob Spaulding, Mrs. Karen Jordan, Commander Bill Curlee, the North Georgia Honor Guard, Joan Drake and the staff of Cobb's Mill Restaurant, and others who helped make the day a success.