Women vets recognized at celebration

CONYERS - Every July 4th, the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers recognizes a special segment of America's military veterans, and this year women veterans are being commended for all of their efforts.

Brig. Gen. Maria Britt, the first woman to be a commanding general of Georgia's National Guard, will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday before the fireworks show planned at GIHP. In her speech, titled, "America's Women Veterans and Military Personnel," Britt will discuss the critical role of women in the military.

All female veterans in attendance will also receive a special proclamation signed by Conyers Mayor Randy Mills to recognize their hard work and the sacrifices they have made.

Tommy Clack, manager of the Rockdale office of the state Department of Veteran Services, said it's about time female fighters are recognized. He said he believes that women are beginning to play a greater role than ever before in the military, and according to news reports, more women have been killed in Iraq than in any other American war.

"This is a great opportunity that hasn't happened before," Clack said. "It's long overdue."

Britt, a Rockdale resident, supervises about 11,000 members of the Georgia National Guard. Her speech will be delivered during the horse park's annual Fabulous Fourth Festival. This festival will feature activities for children, such as miniature train rides and arts and crafts, and live performances from local bands. Numerous street vendors selling food, arts and crafts and novelty items will also be available.

In addition to the GIHP's July 4 celebration, many Veteran's Affairs facilities and other military bases around the state will be holding their own ceremonies to recognize female veterans.

Clack said he believed it is important that all of the country's veterans should be remembered throughout the year, as well.

"The public needs to be aware of the sacrifices of these men and women," Clack said. "(My job) is just an opportunity to say thank you to these men and women, and let everyone know that they exist."

The GIHP plans to recognize the country's veterans by dedicating a new section of the park to them on Veteran's Day in November.

Next year, the GIHP will honor Gold Star women, mothers and wives who have lost a son, daughter or husband in the military, during the 2010 Fabulous Fourth Festival.

Brittany Binowski can be reached at news.intern@rockdalecitizen.com.