A lone bugle sounded out “Taps” as the sun set over the Veterans Memorial in King Sunday evening, where a crowd of a few hundred people gathered to pay respects to veterans.
The annual City of King Veterans Day Service drew a large crowd to King Central Park. There guest speaker Brigadier General Hoyal B. Kye (U.S. Air Force) spoke of why he is proud to be an American.
Kye began and ended his speech by reciting the chorus to Lee Greenwood’s patriotic anthem, “God Bless the USA.”
“My ole heart is bursting just thinking of the power of that anthem,” said Kye.
He spoke of the sacrifice of veterans, saying, “We do things because they’re right, not because they’re appreciated.”
Referring to wars overseas, Kye talked about freedom in other countries and the complicated nature of democracy, saying it cannot be exported. The majority of a nation has to want it.
Kye said he was proud to be an American because of the nation’s respect for the rights of others, free speech and the free practice of religion.
He also advised leaders facing tough budgets to continue to care for veterans.
“Do not balance your budget on the backs of those who bore your freedom,” said Kye.
The event began as families gathered with blankets and chairs by the park amphitheatre to listen to patriotic music performed by the West Stokes High School Band prior to the service. The American Legion Honor Guard posted colors at the start of the service and Lane Bennett, Legion commander, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. People held small flags that were handed out to them as they entered the park.
Despite the current lawsuit against the city regarding religious symbols at the King Veterans Memorial, prayer and songs touching on religious themes were still incorporated into the service as in years past.
Maya Burgess and Bruce Burgess performed patriotic tunes throughout the event, including the National Anthem, “America the Beautiful,” and “God Bless America.” Tom Southern, Post No. 290 chaplain, delivered the invocation before Mayor Jack Warren gave a welcome.
Warren asked any veterans present to raise their hands. He then said, “It is because of you, veterans, that we can stand here today and have this service.”
Following Kye’s speech, the crowd drifted to the memorial to see the laying of the wreath, Robby Voss and Eric Marshall’s performance of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, prayer by Asst. City Chaplain Carl Childs, a 21 gun volley by the American Legion Honor Guard and performance of “Taps.”