Lithonia held its Veteran’s Day celebration on November 10, 2012. Seeing the young men and women in uniform was a sobering reminder that war is real and sadly will probably always be with humankind. As I watched the ceremony and acknowledgement of the military and the men and women who have served to defend our country, I thought about my own family and it’s service to America. My father was a World War II Vet and my brother-in-law served in Vietnam. My father sustained a debilitating injury to his back and contracted tuberculosis and almost died. He spent months in the hospital. My brother-in-law was shot in the leg in one incident and then returned to the war front where he sustained a major injury to his arm, which forced him to retire as a helicopter pilot.
Max Cleland is from Lithonia, Georgia. One of the main streets that runs through the town is named for him. Like my father and brother-in-law, Cleland made the ultimate sacrifice, losing his legs and an arm in combat. He went on to serve in the government and would probably still be in the Senate had it not been for Saxby Chambliss’s smear campaign that connected him to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Even though Chambliss’s campaign held no merit, Cleland still lost. Cleland went on to work for John Kerry who was also the victim of a similar campaign.
I grew up around 13 miles from Fort Bragg Army Reservation so the military was always a presence. As I stood in the park in Lithonia, I thought about my father and brother-in-law and their sacrifice for America.
To say that “war is hell” is an understatement. We honor those who sacrifice their lives in service of their country and pray that someday, war will be merely a word and not an action that destroy’s life.
These young cadets turn toward a monument that was dedicated in the African American Cemetery in Lithonia. Many men and women served in wars from the tiny town.
Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson poses with Chris Tucker who is a native of Lithonia. Tucker attended the celebration with his grandfather.