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Veterans Day saluted at Centennial Memorial Park

The Anniston Star - 11/13/2023

Nov. 13—The extended patriotic remembrance weekend came to its climax as the 33rd annual Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Memorial Park was held Saturday morning.

Ken Rollins, the veteran who both originated the event and the park which stands as the state's salute to all its veterans, welcomed those who attended despite the cold and drizzle.

Among those welcomed was a 99-year-old veteran of World War II who was visiting from Clay County.

When Rollins asked if he remembered his serial number, the gentleman recited it strong and clear of voice more than 75 years after his discharge from the Army.

"You won't find one of us that do not remember our number," Rollins said. "When we raised our hand [to take our oath], they told us we didn't have a mama, we didn't have kids or anybody. We belonged to the Army and we had a serial number."

Cleburne County Probate Judge Ryan Robertson and his wife, Mitzy, provided the musical grace notes for the morning beginning with the national anthem.

Calhoun County Circuit Court Clerk Kim McCarson continued her role of introducing the special guests of the annual ceremony.

"There are several dignitaries here today among you, but our veterans are our true heroes and dignitaries," McCarson said. "I thank you for the sacrifices that each of you have made so we could all enjoy our freedom today."

Col. Craig A. Daniel, who recently assumed his post as the 38th commander of the Anniston Army Depot, was called upon to make the main address of the morning.

"To see a 99-year-old veteran of World War II be able to walk up here, say some words and walk back to his seat has made my morning all worth it," Daniel said.

Daniels said all in attendance came with a common purpose — "to acknowledge those who that have served and sacrificed in defense of this great nation."

"Today, we celebrate all veterans that have served," Daniels said, "We remember and honor the veterans that have made the ultimate sacrifice including the names of over 10,000 of Alabama's finest that line the walls around you. We celebrate the nearly 400,000 veterans living across Alabama today. Regardless of the branch of service or the conflict in which they served, our veterans have earned and continue to earn our undying gratitude."

The Young Marines performed the traditional Fallen Comrade Ceremony and family members were invited to lay roses at the memorial.

Bagpiper Brian Conary played "Amazing Grace," the Marine Corps League shot the Honor Volley, and the sound of "Taps" brought the ceremony to a close.

Staff Writer Brian Graves: 256-236-1551.

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