Club member Eric Moye began the event by singing “Some Gave All,” originally sung by Billy Ray Cyrus. Lt. Col. Rod Sylvester then read the poem “Our Flag” before the Spalding High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the colors.
“Let us not forget the men and women who forged this land with love,” Sylvester said.
A succession of speakers then told stories about the American military, punctuated by “You could have heard a pin drop.”
Spalding County Chief Magistrate Judge Rita Cavanaugh told the story of Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who, when French President Charles de Gaulle asked for American troops to be removed from France as soon as possible, responded by asking him if that included the ones buried there.
Griffin Board of Commissioners member Ryan McLemore told the story of a French engineer who mocked an aircraft carrier being sent to aid the victims of the 2004 tsunami until an American engineer told him of the hospital facilities, power-generation equipment and food supplies stored on board. Lt. Col. Jesse Pugh told of a French admiral who complained about a naval conference being in English and was told English-speaking nations made sure he didn’t have to speak German.
Pugh then spoke about the chaplains of the USS Dorchester, who organized the panicking men of a ship attacked by German submarines and went down with the ship because they gave up their life jackets.
Lt. Col. Allan Imes then quoted an old poem about the meaning of the flag and said that the Kiwanis Club had a higher percentage of veterans in it than American society as a whole.
He then introduced Bill Dempsey, who served as an honor guard for the remains of unknown American soldiers from World War II and the Korean War. After that, he introduced Thurman R. Brown, whom the book “Outpost of Freedom,” written by Medal of Honor winner Roger Donlon, credits with playing a key role in the successful defense of Nam Dong against the Viet Cong. That battle inspired the John Wayne film “The Green Berets.”