Prattville – A large crowd gathered at the Autauga County Courthouse this morning to pay tribute to and honor military veterans of all ages.
The Prattville High School Air Force JROTC performed an emotional flag ceremony followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. George Partridge, a retired Air Force veteran, introduced members of the military and some civilians who were dressed in period clothing for each armed conflict from the American Revolution to Iraq.
Autauga County Circuit Court Clerk Whit Moncrief spoke during the ceremony.
“I want to thank all of the veterans for their service to our country,” Moncrief said. “I’m reminded of the Will Rogers saying, ‘We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.’”
One of those heroes, Charles M. “Chuck” Keene, 83, retired in 1986 from the Navy as a Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank there is. Keene, originally from Sarasota, Florida, served in WW II (Pacific Theater) and in Korea. Today he reflected about what the holiday means to him.
“As a Christian and a veteran, I am so thankful for America … our great country, and for all of the men and women who fought for her,” Keene said with emotion.
Keene has been living in Prattville for the past 43 years; his son, Gary, was a Navy Medic in the Marine Corps for 16 years.
The veteran also voiced his concerns about some of the problems currently facing the United States.
“We are a trillion dollars in debt and they say that in 10 years it will be $10 trillion,” said Keene. “And if we don’t watch out, millions of people will be without insurance and doctors. Those worries are not for me, I’ve lived my life … but I worry for my children and grandchildren.”
For Melissa Henninger of Prattville, the day was about family, as her husband, Aaron, was a part of the Veteran’s Day program. He has been in the Air Force for 4 years and has served an 8-month tour in Iraq.
Henninger watched the ceremony as she held their ten-month old son, Winston.
“I brought Winston today because … well, maybe one day he can realize just what the military has done for us, for freedom,” she said.
Born in 1935, State Representative Mac Gipson, stated that he vividly remembered the start of the Second World War in 1941.
“We idolized the heroes of World War II,” said Gipson. “Those were my formative years, so it had a tremendous impact on my thoughts about dealing with the military. I lived through their protection.”
Article by Melissa Parker
© 2009 Our Prattville. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.