Annual Veterans Celebration to honor local heroes

American Legion Post 25 Commander Phillip Terry and post members conduct a special flag ceremony at the 2017 Strawberry Festival, which helped spark plans for the annual Veterans Celebration being held for the second consecutive year this Saturday.

Lawrence County’s Second Annual Veterans Celebration is happening this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Moulton.

The event, sponsored by the Jesse Owens Runners Club, will feature a two-mile race, sponsored by State Farm Insurance Agent Ben Jones, a Veterans Flag Ceremony presented by the American Legion Post 25, live music, free games and bounce houses for the kids, various vendors, and concessions. 

The Veterans Celebration is free to attend. However, the JORC is seeking at least 100 people or groups to donate $100 during the event.

All proceeds from donations made will benefit local veterans here in Lawrence County, event director Stanley Johnson added. 

Some of the expenses these donations assist with include travel expenses to and from VA hospitals or clinics, assistance in paying a veteran’s utility bill, and to families in need after the passing of their veteran and loved one. 

A portion of proceeds will also be donated to the American Legion Post 25 and to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8362, said Johnson, whose own father is also a veteran. 

American Legion Post 25 Post Commander Phillip Terry said the Veterans Celebration may be the only event of its kind in the country.

“How this came about—we were actually invited to the Strawberry Festival two years ago to perform this flag ceremony,” Terry said. “Stanley came up to me after the ceremony and said, ‘Phil, you just changed my life. I think I can understand my dad now.’ He looked at me and said he wanted to do something for the Veterans.”

Terry said Johnson’s appreciation for the brief flag ceremony that was held during the 2017 Strawberry Festival helped spark plans for the larger celebration that is being held for the second consecutive year on the Moulton Square this weekend.

Terry said he and members of the American Legion Post 25 begin the ceremony by presenting a 9-by-12 American flag as the National Anthem is played. Following the anthem, each of the branches of military is represented by a flag as the Branches of Service Medley plays, and audience members who served under any of the four branches is asked to step forward for recognition. 

A final song by the Statler Brothers, “More Than A Name On A Wall,” is played to recognize veterans whose names are represented on any war memorial in the nation. Terry said he also reads a brief statement during the song to acknowledge the sacrifices given for freedom.

“Stanley has touched my heart and the hearts of veterans,” Terry said. “He wants to repay the veterans in a way that we have never seen before. As far as we know, this is a singular event that has never been done before and it’s ours.”

Terry said he is also grateful for the exposure and volunteer experience this event provides to young participants in Lawrence County. 

“This event and the Strawberry Festival is put on by the Runners Club, which allows them an opportunity to give back,” he said. “If all of us would give just a little—some give much more than others—but if every person would give just a little—wow.”

Johnson said the flag ceremony is a touching event everyone should experience for themselves. 

“This is such a special group of people who not only fought for our freedoms but continue to fight for veterans who are disabled or in need,” he said. “100 percent of funds raised during this event goes back to them and to veterans in the county.”

Johnson said local veterans and each of the branches of service will also be recognized at different times throughout the day.

The day’s festivities will begin at 8 a.m. with the Fast & Free Run/Jog/Walk race, sponsored by State Farm Agent Ben Jones. 

The two-mile race will begin and end at the Joe Wheeler EMC Office at 641 Big Nance Street in Moulton. An awards ceremony for winners and race participants will follow at the old courthouse around 9:20 a.m. 

A registration fee of $20 must be paid before or on the day of the race. Registration forms are available online at active.com and may also be filled out the morning of the competition. 

All proceeds will go to the American Legion Post 25 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8362.

Johnson said this year’s Veterans Celebration will also include a Cruise-in, sponsored by Chris and Sonya Rutherford.

Classic cars will line up along Lawrence Street in Moulton, Johnson said. 

An entry fee of $10 is required for each vehicle, with registration beginning at 9 a.m.

For more information, or to register a vehicle, call 256-708-5136.

This year’s entertainment will include performances by local talents Joyful Sounds, Cross Ties, the Ray Sparks Band, Blake Bolan, Koyote Creek, One Accord, the Liberty Quartet, the Abundant Life Trio and the Midway Quartet.

For more information, or to help volunteer at the Veterans Celebration, call 256-566-4410.

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