The annual Veterans’ Day observance took place on Monday morning on the historic Stephens County Courthouse lawn in downtown Toccoa.
Keynote speaker the Rev. Scott Borderud of First Alliance Church in Toccoa called on those in attendance to always remember to express thanks to all veterans for their service.
The Rev. Borderud, who has served as a military chaplain, said people should look out especially for the newest veterans.
“Express your gratitude to them for serving our nation, both at war and in peace, and ask those veterans what might you do to lessen their burdens they have carried with them as they return back to civilian life,” said the Rev. Borderud.
New veterans face many of the same challenges that the veterans of past conflicts faced before them in terms of the horrors of war and the difficulty in adjusting back to civilian life, the Rev. Borderud said.
However, because of the end of the draft, war does not affect every family and every community, as it did in past generations, he said.
That results in newer veterans being more intellectually and emotionally isolated from their communities, the Rev. Borderud said.
“They go off to military training, service, and war, but they return to America with a set of experiences that are totally unlike the experiences of their civilian peers,” said the Rev. Borderud. “The only people who can understand these new veterans are the old veterans, whose ranks are shrinking rapidly.”
Also, because conflicts no longer affect each and every family and community, the nature of American patriotism has changed, the Rev. Borderud said.
While flag waving is more widespread and patriotism has become broader, it has also become in some ways, shallower, he contended.
“I say this because in the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, and finally in Vietnam, patriotism cost more than an $11.83 flag from Wal-Mart,” said the Rev. Borderud. “It cost families a son or husband, it cost veterans an arm, a leg, eyesight, or other incalculable losses.”
The American Legion Post 104, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4346, and Marine Corps League Detachment 1303 sponsored Monday’s observance.
During the observance, representatives of those groups recognized other organizations that have done something to honor active duty military or veterans, such as presenting a flag to a local school or making a donation to another organization or military unit.