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Veterans Day ceremonies abound in Newton, Rockdale

American flags line Ga. Hwy. 81 in Oxford in recognition of Veterans Day. The flag here at Collingsworth Street in front of the historic city cememtery is backlit by the autumn sun. -Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

American flags line Ga. Hwy. 81 in Oxford in recognition of Veterans Day. The flag here at Collingsworth Street in front of the historic city cememtery is backlit by the autumn sun. -Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

COVINGTON -- Opportunities abound locally to honor the sacrifice of veterans and commemorate Veterans Day.

Veterans Day falls on Sunday, but some ceremonies will be held on Monday, the federal holiday.

American Legion Post 32 in Covington will host its annual ceremony on Monday at 11 a.m. on the Square downtown. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Douglas Gilreath, senior pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church, whose father is a veteran.

"He's such a wonderful speaker. I'm excited about hearing him. He will probably touch on the responsibilities of citizenship and how veterans contribute to our freedom," said Post Commander Don Floyd.

The ceremony will include the posting of the colors by the Junior ROTC of Newton High School, the laying of the wreath and singing of the National Anthem.

Floyd said the purpose of Veterans Day is to recognize veterans and current military personnel who "give so much of their lives to ensure we have the right to live as we do in the United States, and it's very important that these people are remembered."

American Legion Post 77 in Conyers will host a Veterans Day program at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by a light lunch. The post is located at 674 Legion Road.

The Covington/Conyers Community Orchestra will present a fall concert at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11. The orchestra will play for the first time in the Salem High School Auditorium in Rockdale County. The program will include patriotic and seasonal favorites and a salute to American music.

Admission is free. In its 12th season, the orchestra is directed by Arlene H. Woods, who is also band director at Peachtree Academy.

Peachtree Academy in Covington will host a Veterans Day Service at 9 a.m. Monday in the new high school gym. The school is located at 14101 U.S. Hwy. 278. The event is open to the general public, said the school's principal, Dr. Joe Hutcheson.

"Our goal was to provide a community-wide Veterans Day remembrance service," he said, noting that the ceremony will be indoors and will last about 30 minutes. The mayor of Covington and other dignitaries will participate, and the ceremony will include a speech from an active duty member of the military, posting of the colors and recognition of all veterans and active duty personnel in attendance. "We wanted to educate our students on the importance of remembering the ultimate sacrifice so many veterans have made for our freedom," Hutcheson said.

Several public schools also have special ceremonies planned Monday for Veterans Day.

Newton High School's Junior ROTC students are presenting colors at Mansfield Elementary School at 8 a.m., and afterwards, first- and fifth-grade students will present a history lesson and poem. Students also will put flags on veterans grave sites at Carmel Cemetery near the elementary school.

More than 50 veterans plan to attend the event, which also includes a special breakfast that begins at 7:30 a.m.

Cousins Middle School also will hold its annual ceremony about 9 a.m. The Cousins band will play "Taps" and the chorus will sing a special song.

Throughout the day at Cousins, students, teachers, parents and special guests will read aloud the names of current and past service personnel who are linked to faculty and staff members and students. In the school's foyer will be a display wall with the names of the soldiers currently serving or those who have served in any branch of service. Classes will take turns viewing the wall and hearing the names being read.

Citizens are also asked to be on the lookout for volunteers with American Legion and VFW posts in both counties, who will be handing out poppies at local stores over the weekend in exchange for a donation. The poppies are crafted by disabled veterans.

"All the money we collect has to be kept in a separate account and spent either on veterans causes or children and youth and 25 percent is sent to the Department of Georgia to pay veterans to make them," said Marcia Floyd with the American Legion Post 32 Auxiliary in Covington, whose will be handing out poppies at Walmart and Kmart in Covington from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, she said.

Georgia resident and University of Georgia professor Moina Michael is credited with developing the idea for the memorial poppies after reading a poem by Canadian John McCrae "In Flanders Fields," which states "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row." Michael is buried in Monroe.

Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd also contributed to this article.