Heroes remembered for Veterans Day

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe spoke on behalf of all veterans currently serving in America’s armed forces during the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce’s Veterans Day Remembrance program held on the lawn of the Shelby County Courthouse recently.

An emotional Lowe, who is a member of the Alabama Army National Guard and who participated in the Gulf War, said the patriotic event to honor and remember veterans &uot;will soon be one of Columbiana’s most proud traditions and annual events.&uot;

Lowe began with an emotional tribute to his late father, Johnny Lowe, by saying he was blessed to be &uot;the son of a man who embodied all the finest and most admirable traits that combine to create a veteran, a leader, an officer and a gentleman of the highest caliber.&uot;

Lowe said of the changes that have occurred over the years, &uot;As you would expect, time has changed veterans of today from those of, say, 60 years ago. We are different in our appearance.

&uot;Many of the uniforms we wear today are different from the ones worn during the second world war, the Korean conflict and Vietnam.

&uot;Gone are the leggings that my father wore over his boots during the Korean War. The khaki uniform with the tie tucked into the shirt is no longer around. Even the camouflaged service cap worn only a year ago has been replaced by the black beret.&uot;

He also said veterans today have more lethal weapons with which to conduct war.

&uot;Men and equipment are now victims of kill zones measured in hundreds of meters, kilotons and in some cases, megatons. Naval ships can now destroy opposing forces from well over 100 miles away. And America has a submarine fleet shrouded in secrecy with speeds, ranges and capabilities that very few people know …&uot;

He also said individual uniforms are treated with a chemical that makes it harder for the enemy to detect body heat, &uot;giving us greater survivability on the battlefield.&uot;

Lowe noted, however, &uot;Field rations, unfortunately, haven’t gotten much better.&uot;

He said today’s military officer receives different, more intense training from that a half century ago.

But rather than focus on how today’s veterans are different, Lowe said, &uot;Let us point out and remember how veterans of all the years past, present and future are alike.&uot;

&uot;It is my firm belief that every veteran, be it soldier, marine, airman or coast guard, does what he or she does because at one point or another that person develops a respect for himself or herself &045; a desire to make a difference for the better and most important, a love for our country.

&uot;Time and time again, we hear people give testimony about what America means to them. We read poems and watch movies created to awaken patriotic and selfless feelings within us.&uot;

But Lowe said, &uot;The trouble with feelings that swell up in us so quickly is that they tend to leave us just as quickly. Our country deserves and each veteran and his or her family deserves a constant, burning and unchanging appreciation and respect.

&uot;If we continue to look at all the privileges we have and fool ourselves into thinking that these are rights that cannot be taken away or that need not be defended, then we are on a direct and unswerving path to the darkest days we will know as a nation.&uot;

Lowe said the coming weeks could bring another war.

And should that happen, he said, &uot;Every American should at that time look deeply within himself or herself and determine what contribution he or she can make in support of our nation and our veterans and do it to the best of that person’s ability. That is not only a duty. It is a privilege of the highest degree, and it carries with it one of the greatest rewards we can receive while on this earth … the gratitude of a nation.&uot;

Chamber director Bonnie Atchison recalled her childhood memories of World War II and her home in Rimlap, Ala.

She said her father was sent to build a steel mill in Mexico, and her brother went into the U.S. Navy. Late one night when a gang of boys came down her street, she recalled that her mother, a &uot;brave little lady,&uot; stood at the door with shotgun in hand.

Atchison said the gang turned out to be boys returning home in the middle of the night from serving in the war. The war was over, she said, and the boys were singing.

Atchison said she was glad

we have memories of those who served this &uot;great nation.&uot;

She pointed to the &uot;great monument&uot; by the Shelby County Courthouse which memorializes those from Shelby County who lost their lives in the effort to save this nation.

Columbiana Police Chief Michael Lann said that since Sept. 11 the hearts of many Americans have been changed &045; that although the police officers and firefighters of Columbiana were not in New York when the attack happened, people have treated them as if they were.

He said it has created in him &uot;a sense of humility.&uot;

I believe it has given all of us the opportunity to reflect on our job and responsibility. I consider it an honor that you trust me.&uot;

The invocation was brought by the Rev. Frank Cole, a veteran. The colors were posted by the Vincent High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Melody Dean sang &uot;How Great Thou Art&uot; and the &uot;National Anthem.&uot; Boy Scout Troop 560 lowered the flag to half staff and Shelby County High School trumpet player Matthew Vazquez played &uot;Taps.&uot;

The closing prayer was brought by Korean War veteran Jerry Johnson. And an outdoor concert was performed by a group from Strings and Things.

Lt. Col. Larry Moore spoke of how the JROTC helps develop better citizens and helps them to know what to expect should they choose a career in the military. He said the JROTC is now at Shelby County, Thompson and Vincent High and will be at Calera in the next few years.

The closing prayer was brought by Korean War veteran Jerry Johnson. And an outdoor concert was performed by a group from Strings and Things.

In addition to those listed, thanks in the program were expressed to the cities of Chelsea and Columbiana,

Dr. Stancil Handley, city employees of Columbiana, Alex Dudcock of Shelby County, the First Baptist Church in Columbiana, the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, police, fire and rescue personnel, nurses and doctors and veterans and their families.

Atchison also recognized Cub Scout Troop 560 for folding and distributing Remembrance Day photos