Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Public Is Invited To Walk For Freedom Sept 6th

Public Is Invited To Walk For Freedom
Patriot Day and “America Supports You Freedom Walk” To Be Held September 6

Peachtree City is holding the 2nd annual “America Supports You Freedom Walk” along with Patriot Day on Sept. 6, 2008.

People can demonstrate their support for the men and women fighting for our freedom by participating in the one-mile walk, which will begin at 8:45 a.m. at the intersection of TDK and Dividend in Peachtree City. The public is encouraged to participate. The walk will end at Falcon field, where the Patriot Day celebration takes place. The end of the walk actually kicks off the Patriot Day event, which features live patriotic music, vintage military aircraft, vehicles and equipment, a special guest speaker and more.

Those interested in walking can register their name and how many will be attending by email at:

By Presidential proclamation, Patriot Day is a day to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, when more than 3,000 people were killed by terrorists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The “Freedom Walk” is an event, first started in 2005 by Pentagon employees to commemorate the people who were killed there, as a reminder of the continuing Global War on Terror and to renew commitment to freedom and the values of our country.

Last year 255 communities participated across the nation, and every state was represented along with 8 nations overseas. What began as a small gesture became a new national tradition.
“We would love for everyone to be a part of it!” said Freedom Walk coordinator Caitlin Dillon, a Sandy Creek High School senior. She organized the first Freedom Walk in Peachtree City last year after having participated in one the year before in another city.

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Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

Monday, June 16, 2008

America Supports You: D.C. United Soccer Team Honors Troops, Veterans

Hundreds of troops and their families were treated to a professional soccer match on Flag Day during D.C. United's 9th Annual Armed Forces and Veteran's Appreciation Day at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in the nation's capital.

"A whole night dedicated to servicemembers makes me feel good," said Army Spec. Devin Calcote, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," who presented the nation's colors at the beginning of the match between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls.

The team provided 1,000 free tickets for active-duty servicemembers. Discounted tickets for military identification card holders and their families were also available.

"It is a privilege and an honor for D.C. United to host a special night for military personnel and veterans each season," said Stephen Zack, D.C. United's executive vice president. "We respect the courage and commitment these individuals display and hope to share with them our support."

Support was on display in the stadium parking before the game. Military recruiters, the U.S.O. and America Supports You greeted troops and soccer fans on their walk from the parking lot.

"I wrote thank you for being in the troops and keeping our nation safe," said D.C. United fan Timothy Murnin, 12, describing what he wrote on a greeting card to the troops at the Department of Defense America Supports You booth.

America Supports you is a Department of Defense program that connects individual citizens, troop-support organizations and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad. America Supports you and its local, non-profit homefront groups have been involved with D.C. United's Military Appreciation Night for the past two years.

Before the game, thousands of soccer fans witnessed a swearing-in ceremony for some two dozen new recruits headed into the Marine Corps, Army National Guard, Air National Guard and Coast Guard.

"It's great to be honored here on Flag Day and to enlist some youngsters. The support tonight for servicemembers from all branches in unbelievable," said Marine Lt. Gen. Ronald Coleman, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs for the U.S. Marine Corps, before he administered the oath of enlistment.

For one new recruit who will report to the Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, S.C., on June 23, being enlisted into the Marine Corps by a three-star general, in front of thousands of people, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"It hit me right in the heart. I really felt like America appreciated me, and I couldn't believe that all those clapping hands were for me," said Dayron Nibblins, an aspiring aviation electrical technician.

A driving rain began pouring down in the minutes between the enlistment ceremony and kickoff, but that didn't stop the action on the field. Some military spectators from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Wounded Warrior Battalion stayed out of the rain and enjoyed a bird's eye view of the game from the Champion's Club overlooking the field.

"It's great to have the opportunity to come here and relax with my family. I know a good part of the country is behind the soldiers because everywhere I go I get that sentiment, people are positive," said Army Maj. David Hanes, an armor officer.

Hanes was a victim of a roadside bomb in October 2006, and has suffered through a litany of broken screws and plates, along with an infection in his right femur.

"The good news is that I hope to be going back on duty in the next month or two," said Hanes as his son, Colin, clung to his side.

For men and women like Hanes eager to serve their country, appreciation for their service can be summed up with the sage words of a an 11-year old soccer fan.

"The troops are fighting for our country and making us free. I want to make them feel appreciated," said Danny Zilevicius as he filled out an America Supports You greeting card for the troops.

By the end of the night, D.C. United and its fans were rewarded for their appreciation of the armed forces and veterans with a 4-1 win over New York.

By Melinda L. Larson
American Forces Press Service

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Flag Day: Four Personal Perspectives

President and Nancy Reagan file by the flag-draped caskets of victims of the April 18, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in an April 23, 1983 file photo. Photo courtesy Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Tomorrow (June 14, 2008) the United States observes National Flag Day, an annual tribute to the American flag, the ideals it stands for and the sacrifices made to preserve them.

President Woodrow Wilson recognized during his first Flag Day address in 1915 that the freedoms the U.S. flag stands for weren't and never would be free.

"The lines of red are lines of blood, nobly and unselfishly shed by men who loved the liberty of their fellowship more than they loved their own lives and fortunes," he said. "God forbid that we should have to use the blood of America to freshen the color of the flag."

But American blood has spilled time and time again to preserve American liberties, most recently in the war against violent extremism. In this year's Flag Day Proclamation, President Bush calls on the nation to remember the troops who carry Old Glory before them "as they defend the liberties for which it stands."

"On Flag Day and during National Flag Week, we remember those in uniform whose courage and sacrifice inspire us here at home," Bush said. "We also remember the rich history of one of our oldest national symbols and reflect on our duty to carry our heritage of freedom into the future."

Four current or retired servicemembers recently shared their personal perspectives about how the flag has inspired them through their proudest as well as darkest days as a symbol of patriotism, strength and resilience.

9/11 Terror Attacks

Few Americans will forget the image of three firefighters raising an American flag over the World Trade Center ruins in New York just hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But for Army Capt. Joe Minning and his fellow New York National Guard soldiers, many of them New York City firemen and police officers, the Ground Zero flag took on a very personal significance as they desperately sifted through the rubble looking for survivors.

"Seeing the flag raised above all of the rubble and ruins of the World Trade Center instilled a new sense of pride in me for our country," he said. "No matter what happens to the United States -- on foreign ground, on U.S. soil -- we, the American people, will always continue to move forward, rebuild and face any challenges that lie ahead"

Three years later, Minning and the "Fighting 69th" Brigade Combat Team would take that inspiration with them to Iraq, where they lost 19 soldiers securing Route Irish and its surrounding Baghdad neighborhoods during their year-long deployment.

Among those killed was Army Staff Sgt. Christian Engledrum, a New York firefighter who, like Minning, worked amid the dust and smoke immediately following the World Trade Center attack. Engledrum, the first New York City employee to die serving in Iraq, became a symbol of the unit that went from Ground Zero to Iraq's Sunni Triangle, and after his death, to the mountains of Afghanistan.

The flag and what it represents continue to motivate unit members during their current deployment to Afghanistan as embedded trainers for the Afghan National Army, he said.

Minning said he recognizes when he sees Old Glory flying at his tiny forward operating base there that he and his fellow soldiers are following in the footsteps of the earliest U.S. patriots and defending the same values they fought for.

"The flag is a symbol of everything the United States stands for -- from our founding fathers up until now, all that we have accomplished, and the hurtles our country has overcome," he said.

As a soldier, Minning said, he and his fellow soldiers recognize that it's up to them to continue carrying the torch forward.

"It is the American soldier who keeps the country moving forward and will never let it be taken down by any adversity. It is what we fight for and, if we fall in battle, what our coffins are draped with," he said. "And it's what we are committed to protecting and defending, no matter what the price."

The Iraq War

When thousands of people gathered in late April at the Cincinnati Red's Great American Ballpark, all eyes were on a platform at the pitchers' mound covered by the flag-draped casket of Army Sgt. Matt Maupin.

The mourners gathered to remember the 20-year-old Army reservist who went missing more than four years earlier when his convoy came under attack in April 2004. Insurgents released a videotape shortly after the incident showing him in captivity, and his whereabouts remained unknown until the Army found and positively identified his remains in March.

Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Caffie, the top enlisted Army Reserve soldier, was among countless people who had hoped and prayed for Maupin's safe return. As he joined the crowd in Ohio to honor and bid farewell to Maupin, Caffie looked out at thousands of hand-held flags waving in the stands, all surrounding Maupin's casket.

"It underscores the meaning and symbolism of the flag when you see it draped over the coffin of this young man who had the world going for him," Caffey said.

Maupin is among thousands of U.S. troops whose lives have been cut short at the hands of terrorists. Back in October 1983, 241 Marines were killed when a terrorist truck bomb struck their barracks in Beirut. In June 1996, 13 airmen died during the terror attack on Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In October 2000, 17 crewmembers from USS Cole were killed when a terrorist bomb ripped through their ship at Aden, Yemen.

Then came the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the war on terror they ushered in.

Through it all, the flag has served as an unwavering source of inspiration that's unified America, Caffie said.

"It has endured a lot -- being dragged through streets and burned and disrespected and spit on and stepped on," he said.

"And yet it has survived and served as a nucleus that brings this country together across gender, ethnic and religious backgrounds," he said. "It is the American flag that has united us and will continue to inspire patriotism in this country."

Beirut Embassy Bombing

Back in April 1983, rescue workers picking through the rubble of what had been the U.S. Embassy in Beirut following a terrorist attack uncovered the body of 21-year-old Marine Cpl. Robert V. McMaugh. Beside his body lay the tattered remains of the U.S. flag that had once stood proudly beside his guard post in the embassy's main lobby.

McMaugh's fellow Marine security guards draped their fallen comrade in a fresh American flag and carried him away on a stretcher. A squad of Marines snapped to attention and saluted.

"It was a poignant moment," recalled retired Chief Warrant Officer Charles W. "Bill" Henderson, a spokesman attached to 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit in Lebanon at the time of the bombing. "Everyone had been digging and digging, then suddenly, everything stopped. Not a word was said. Seeing the body of a fellow Marine covered with the American flag, ... it was an electrifying moment."

While stationed in Beirut, Henderson said, he came to appreciate the flag, not just as a piece of material, but as a symbol of courage. "Each Marine (in Lebanon) wore an American flag on his shirt," he said. "It did more than show that we were Americans. It showed that we were representing this country and what it stands for: freedom for all people."

Twenty-five years later, Henderson said terrorist attacks that followed that initial salvo and the thousands of Americans who have died as a result have only deepened the flag's symbolism.

"What's behind it are the blood and tears of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have sacrificed. The symbolism behind the flag is this long tradition of sacrifice to preserve liberty," he said.

"Yes, it is just a piece of cloth," he said. "But what it represents are the lives of thousands of Americans who have given everything for this nation -- who ask nothing in return but felt an obligation of duty to their country."

Henderson said he doesn't take disrespect for the flag lightly. "When you insult our flag, you insult the lives and the sacrifices of all the men and women who have served this country," he said.

On the other hand, honoring the flag is showing respect and appreciation for all they have done. "You are honoring everything that we, as a nation, have accomplished, what America has done, and what America represents to the world," he said.

Iranian Hostage Crisis

Now-retired Col. David M. Roeder remembers living without the freedoms he had worked to protect when he and more than 50 other Americans were taken hostage for 444 days in Iran in November 1979.

Roeder, assistant Air Force attache to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran at the time, watched helplessly as U.S. flag burnings became almost daily media events. His captors taunted the hostages by carrying garbage from one area of the embassy compound to another, wrapped in the American flag.

Through it all, Roeder said, he never lost faith in his country or the flag that symbolizes its ideals. "When you talk about a flag, whether it's standing in a place of honor at a ceremony or draped over a casket or waving from someone's house, you're talking about a symbol," he said.

"But the importance of that symbolism is monumental. It represents what we are, wherever we are in the world," he said.

"And no matter what anyone else says about it or does to it, the flag never loses dignity. It only gains dignity, because when someone attacks the American flag, it's because they recognize all that it represents and the greatness of this country."

Twenty-seven years after his release, Roeder, now 68, holds on to that symbolism with fervor. He flies a flag at his home in Pinehurst, N.C., and a summer home in Wisconsin every day. His pickup truck has not one, but several, flag stickers on it.

Like many Americans, he was moved by the show of Old Glory nationwide in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, and said he wishes it had never ended. "Wouldn't it be great if you could keep that going?" he said. "It tells everyone who sees it who we are and what we stand for," he said.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let Freedom Ring Ceremony-- July 4th

Let Freedom Ring Ceremony
July 4th
2 pm
Old Fayette County Courthouse Square, Fayetteville, Georgia

During this short but inspiring ceremony, the names of the original thirteen states are read and bells are rung to honor the men who risked their lives by signing the Declaration of Independence. This event was begun by the Marquis de Lafayette Chapter Sons of the American Revolution several years ago and has become a Fayetteville tradition. This year, the James Waldrop Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution of Fayetteville will partner with them and hand out American flags to attendees. The ceremony only lasts about twenty minutes, so plan that barbecue for 3:00 and bring the family to this meaningful event to honor our country's birthday and the men who brought it about.

Bush Proclaims National Flag Week

PP Note: Old Glory--- Fly her high. Fly her proud. Remember the sacrifices of all of our young men and women who believe in her enough to lay down their lives.

President Bush issued a proclamation urging Americans to observe National Flag Week and Flag Day on June 14, and to recognize the sacrifices U.S. servicemembers have made through U.S. history to protect the freedoms for which the flag stands.
The proclamation reads, in part:

"Since the first days of our Republic, Americans have flown the flag to show their pride and appreciation for the freedoms they enjoy in this great nation. Every day, Americans pledge their allegiance to the flag of the United States, and our troops carry it before them as they defend the liberties for which it stands.

"On Flag Day and during National Flag Week, we remember those in uniform whose courage and sacrifice inspire us here at home. We also remember the rich history of one of our oldest national symbols and reflect on our duty to carry our heritage of freedom into the future."

Debye Baird Honored as a Patriotic Employer

Clayton State Director of Client Support Services Debye Baird (McDonough) has been honored by the Department of Defense as a “Patriotic Employer.”

Baird was nominated for the award by Clayton State alumnus John A. Westbrook. Currently a sergeant in the 55th Combat Communications Squadron at Robins Air Force Base in Warner-Robins, Ga., following his December 2007 graduation from Clayton State, Westbrook worked for the University’s student help desk, “The HUB,” under Baird while he was a student at Clayton State. His narrative for Baird’s award reads in part…

“During the entire four years of working for Ms. Baird she would always give me time off of work to complete my military requirements as far as my two weeks a year and one weekend a month. Sometimes that small reserve commitment would require more than that two weeks, and every time that would happen she would always be very supportive of my military obligations. I had to deploy at the last minute in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Aviano AB in Italy. While I was gone foe three months Ms. Baird held my position and pay grade… when I came back she also made sure I received my annual pay raise.”

The Patriotic Employer award is presented by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense organization. It is a staff group within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. ESGR was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve component members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.

Baird, along with approximately 100 other ESGR honorees, will be honored at a luncheon with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, June 25.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tomme Honored by Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution

J. Michael Tomme, Sr. of McDonough, GA, was recently recognized by the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution at their Annual Meeting.

Tomme was awarded the Patriot Medal, the highest award for service, for his dedicated work to the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Children of the American Revolution.

Tomme is a member of the Marquis de Lafayette Sons of the American Revolution Chapter in Fayetteville, GA.

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Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

American Legion Observes Flag Day

The American Legion Fayette County Post 105 reminds all citizens that Saturday, June 14 is Flag Day. In honor of Flag Day, the "Betsy Ross" Flag will be flown in front of the American Legion Log Cabin in Fayetteville on that date.

The Continental Congress approved this design of 13 stars and 13 red and white stripes as the first official national flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. Denny Leander, Post 105 Flag Retirement Chairman, left and Dave Niebes, Post 105 Commander, right prepare to raise the Betsy Ross Flag on Flag Day. American Legion Post 105 is a patriotic service organization of military veterans, serving all of Fayette County that meets the second Monday of each month at Log Cabin.

Photo by: Robert Ladd, Post 105

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fayette Businesses Recognized for Flying the Flag

Members of the Marquis de Lafayette Chapter Sons of the American Revolution recently presented Flag Certificates to IHOP and Leslie Contracting, both located in Fayetteville, GA.

"Our chapter presents these to businesses or individuals who display the flag properly," stated Chairman John Sloan. On hand to present the awards were SAR members John Sloan, Ernie Kearns and Mike Tomme.

Pictured receiving the certificates are: Richard Lopez, Manager of IHOP and Cam Williams, President of Leslie Contracting and Kendall Olson, Vice President.

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