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Veterans will be honored

CONYERS -- Veterans Day in Rockdale County will have a new addition this year, but even without it, it is a holiday that should hardly be routine, according to local leaders.

The public will have the opportunity to see another part of the Veterans Park at 11 a.m. during Wednesday's Veterans Day ceremony.

The completion of the 600-foot sidewalk with marble bars of dates of the American wars will be a new attraction of the $1.2 million park, explained Norman Wheeler, chairman of the local Veterans Memorial Foundation.

"This will be one of the largest veterans parks in the country," Wheeler said of the roughly 2-acre park. "It started out with a little dream of building a small one (park).

"It's not to single out one individual but recognize all the veterans in our community," Wheeler added.

The park's presentation enclave is also complete and a ribbon-cutting, marking completion of the project's first phase, will follow after the ceremony.

"The rain held us up a bit on this project," Wheeler said.

Local resident and former Tuskegee Airman Val Archer will be Wednesday's guest speaker.

"It's a great opportunity to us to have him speak to us," Wheeler said. "We're very fortunate I think to have him as our speaker."

The American Legion Post 77 will also hold a Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday on the front lawn of their headquarters 674 American Legion Road.

Complete with patriotic music and a guest speaker, the tribute will continue with color guard posting flags around the city, explained Adjutant Jim Crutchfield.

The Air Force retiree explained the day and time of the ceremony recognizes Armistice Day, where world powers signed the treaty to end World War I, "on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."

"I feel it stands for the entire freedom of the world," Crutchfield said of Veterans Day. "There's a lot of people today who don't know the significance of 11/11."

The 22-year veteran, who also served in Desert Storm, feels strongly about honoring veterans.

"That's why, personally, I would never work on that day," Crutchfield said.