Veterans and their family members shared the bleachers with other guests during the Veterans Day Ceremony on Saturday at the Conway Municipal Airport.
“I’d like to thank you on behalf of the city, all of you for being here today,” Jack Bell, Conway’s chief of staff, said. “Thank you especially to the veterans who were able to come. We really appreciate you being here and appreciate your service to our country and our community.”
On behalf of Mayor Bart Castleberry, who could not attend the event, Bell read a proclamation making Nov. 10 Veteran’s Appreciation Day.
“Due to the sacrifices made by all veterans, and their families, the citizens of the City of Conway, Arkansas, extend their deepest and most heartfelt appreciation, respect and gratitude,” the document, signed by Castleberry, reads in part. “I urge all citizens to join with me in honoring those who have and are serving our country through military service.”
During the ceremony, all servicemen and women were recognized, including World War II veterans Dub Toombs, Floyd Brantley and Al Hiegel.
“We don’t show enough appreciation for our veterans but today, we’re going to try and catch up a little bit,” Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker said.
Baker, who served 38 years in the Arkansas National Guard, said one thing he learned in his time and from those around him is that “freedom is not free.”
“There is no question about it,” he said. “Too many of us take it for granted, I’m guilty of that.”
Baker said he hopes that this next year they can do more for the more than 10,000 veterans that reside in Faulkner County.
“I’ll leave you with this,” he said. “There’s no glory in a battle when you see its awful cost, but, there is glory in the fact that the flag was never lost.”
Retired Col. Rick Bradley also spoke during the event.
“As I stand here and look out over this crowd that is here today, there is not an individual here that’s wore the uniform that did not wear it with pride and honor and integrity,” he said. “Many of you know what it’s like to fight in that fighting hole. Others know what it means to support, follow up, come from behind. Veterans I love you, I appreciate you. As long as there are gatherings like this today, you will not be forgotten.”
Bradley said years ago, words came to him; he read them on Saturday and dedicated the poem, “How About You,” to veterans:
“They went overseas so long ago to fight in the wind, the cold and the snow. To fight a good cause, so they were told. Our sons and young men were brave and bold. They came in all sizes, color and shape, hoping for a new world, they could help make. They stormed the beaches of Normandy, without thought for their life, to rescue nations of people who live with grief and strife. My dad and father-in-law, too, went across the great pond, to fight for freedom, there and beyond. They were our young men, so brave and bold, they gave of their youth, they are now growing old. Many have been forgotten and forsaken by friend, and now they grow older with some reaching their end. Some 1,200 a day, so we are told, who went overseas, so long ago, are finding their place in Heaven above, no enemy to fight, in God’s eternal love. Yes, my dad and father-in-law, too, sailed across that ocean blue. Yes, they were our young men so brave and true. They were willing to fight, how about you.”