By Malcolm Butler and Kyle Roberts
Veterans of all branches of the military were present Friday morning for the City of Ruston’s annual Veterans Day ceremony held at the Ruston Sports Complex honoring those man and women who have served the country.
The hour long event saw hundreds in attendance, including family members of veterans, as well as students choir and band students from a number of local schools including Ruston High, Ruston Junior High and Cedar Creek Elementary.
Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said the event is one of his favorite every year and has significant meaning to the community.
“It’s an opportunity for the City of Ruston and all of Lincoln Parish to come together and honor the many veterans who are here but also those who can’t make it for various reasons, including those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” said Walker. “These men and women sacrificed so we can enjoy events like today. Without them, this would not be possible. We appreciate all that they have done for us and for our country.”
Following a presentation of the colors by members of the Louisiana Tech ROTC, Cedar Creek senior John Abram Earle sang the national anthem while 104-year-old retired Corporal Sam Mattox, Sr., led the pledge of allegiance.
Marine recruiters from Ruston and Monroe performed the laying of the wreath, a ceremony that signifies the continuous commitment as American citizens to honor and remember the sacrifices made by generations of fallen heroes in defense of our American way of life.
“It’s important to recall the people that have made that sacrifice and signed that dotted line with basically a blank check saying ‘I’m willing to support and defend what I believe is the greatest country in the world,'” said Tedd Hull, former Marine Corps Sergeant from 1995-2005. “And that blank check is payable to your life. It’s good to remember that. And it’s good for future people to want to be a part of and to protect the rights and freedoms that we have today.”
Hull provided a speech commemorating the 248th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, which was formed on November 10, 1775, during the Revolutionary War.
“I feel like the event went very well, and was very organized,” said Hull. “And coming from the military, organization is at the spearhead, because if you’re not organized, people die. So today’s event was well organized. It was a culmination of young to old, with Mr. Sam Mattox being there at 104 years old, down to the fourth grade choir from Cedar Creek; all age spectrums.
“It’s very important to know that we enjoy the rights and freedoms that we share today because of men and women that have put themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend that.”
The POW-MIA Missing Man Ceremony was performed by members from the American Legion Post 593 of Grambling. This dignified, solemn ceremony symbolizes the fact that members of the corps are missing from the ranks as prisoners of war or missing in action.
“Today is important because it gives us an opportunity to stop and reflect and be thankful for the many men and women who willingly, voluntarily serve our country,” said Sergeant First Class Chris Taylor who has been a member of the National Guard since 2009. “And just be grateful, be thankful for them, for their families, for the sacrifices that they’ve made to do so.
“I think today was great. It was a great turnout. We had a lot of participation from veterans in our community, with a lot of family members. I love seeing the schools involved because it allows them an opportunity to see the men and women that are before them going out. The sacrifice allows them to kind of witness firsthand, and I think that’s important as well. I think today was a great day, a great turnout, and hopefully all veterans that attended had a good time.”