“Veterans are ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said guest speaker Dolores “Dee” Hardin, deputy vice chairwoman of the Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs representing The American Legion.
Hardin said the men and women who served and still serve America suffer hardships and the horrors of war.
“They all sacrificed something so we can enjoy our freedoms,” she said. “Our armed forces carry the greatest burden of defending us. Fortunately, they are ordinary people carrying out extraordinary things. They are the greatest armed forces in the world.”
Hardin said Veterans Day is important because we choose to honor the living veterans, from the greatest to the latest, with deeds and not just words.
She said we need to show appreciation not only to the veterans, but to the families who also sacrificed so much for our country supporting those veterans.
St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said he was “beaming” from the fantastic Veterans Day Program.
“God has blessed us with an especially good program today,” he said.
Batemon said the program came shortly after the final announcement for the Veterans Affairs Nursing Home, which recently was granted a Certificate of Need by the Alabama State Health Planning and Development Agency.
“The Veterans nursing home is now a reality,” he said. “It is only a matter of building it.”
Batemon said the VA nursing home is in the design phase.
“These things have really elevated the attention given to our veterans,” he said. “As a veteran, I am just very proud our country has continued to elevate the veterans’ status and pay special recognition to the veterans for providing our way of life.”
Mayor Bill Hereford said Wednesday was a great day for Pell City and St. Clair County, especially with the VA nursing home announcement.
“Veterans Day has a particularly special meaning to me, not only because I am a veteran, but because of family members who have served, one of whom made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” he said.
Hardin said there is a great need for the new VA nursing home.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs did a study of veterans all over Alabama, of all ages, races, and both men and women, trying to determine where the need was for the fourth VA nursing home” she said.
Hardin said the other three VA nursing homes are all 150-bed facilities, and there are currently 250 veterans on the waiting list. The new Pell City VA nursing home will be a 254-bed nursing/assisted living facility.
“There is such a need in our state, and the feasibility study helped us figure out where the new VA nursing home should be built — Pell City,” she said. “We feel Pell City is the right decision, especially with the new hospital (St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital) and nursing school (proposed by Jefferson State Community College). We are very excited about it.”
Wednesday’s Veterans Day Program also featured the announcement of the addition of William Paul Franks’ name to the monument in front of the St. Clair County Courthouse.
The program also featured the poem “Freedom,” read by Myra Abbott Keef, special music by Steve Shafer and Teresa Carden, the Roll Call of Heroes of individuals from St. Clair County who gave their lives in service of our country, rifle salute and taps by the Combined Veterans Honor Guard, and flag raising by the Pell City High School Junior ROTC. Refreshments were provided by Kilgroe Funeral Home.