Saluting Those Who’ve Served

Article Published: Nov. 10, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 12, 2011
Saluting Those Who’ve Served

From left, Clyde Benjamin Byrd of Todd, Arnold Lester of Boone and Joe Coffey of Meat Camp are among the High Country’s group of local World War II veterans.

Photo by Kellen Moore

Whether by air, land or water, domestically or internationally, millions of American men and women at one time committed their lives to their country in the United States Armed Services.

Home to several veterans organizations and a university that proudly provides educational services to returning veterans, the High Country is extremely veteran-friendly. Many veterans live in the area, which holds a special appreciation for those who have served. At no time is the gratitude more apparent than Veterans Day, a national holiday celebrated annually on Nov. 11.
Here are some of the area’s top events to honor our hometown heroes.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University will hold its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11. The ceremony begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial on the west side of the Dougherty Administration Building. ASU ROTC will be present at the event and will perform color guard duties.

N.C. Sen. Dan Soucek will serve as the guest speaker. A free continental breakfast will be provided in the administration building following the ceremony.

Soucek, a retired Army captain, will be speaking about his experience as a company commander of an international unit that trained international soldiers.

“Hopefully, it will be an interesting story that inspires and reminds us of what a great country we have and the great men and women that serve us,” he said.

Soucek said Veterans Day is one of his favorite days. He said was honored to be invited to ASU to speak and the university does a great job of recognizing veterans.

Chancellor Kenneth Peacock invites the community to join the university in commemorating the High Country’s veterans.

“One of the most important days a community can observe, including a university community, is Veterans Day,” Peacock said. “Taking a few minutes from our day to thank Appalachian alumni, students and employees who have served their country is something we all should take time to do – not just on Nov. 11, but every day.”

ASU received a spot on the G.I. Jobs 2011 list of Guide to Military Friendly Schools. Many veterans come to ASU continue their education after service. Hundreds apply for educational benefits every semester.

High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America

The High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America will present its fifth annual Veterans Day program at the Boone Mall on Friday, Nov. 11. Veterans and members of veteran organizations will be in attendance. The Watauga Community Band will present a concert at 10:15 a.m. and will be followed by the program at 11 a.m.

The beginning of the program will be marked by 11 chimes, signifying the end of World War I on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The colors, national anthem and invocation will precede guest speaker Lt. David Cox, who has served in the U.S. Army for the past 21 years, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Boone Mall program serves as the largest Veterans Day celebration in the High Country.

Coordinator Sonny Sweet said attendees usually fill the 300 seats, resulting in the event being standing-room only.

“It’s a very nice ceremony, and the fact that the public turns out in great numbers shows that it is something worthwhile doing,” Sweet said.

Sweet, a 30-year Army veteran, said he hopes everyone does something to recognize veterans on Veterans Day.

“It’s something that we can all do that is very simple in effort, but very important and large in impact to remember all those great guys and girls that did something so great for their country,” he said.

Watauga County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 90

The Watauga County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 90 will be holding a fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 11. Members of the group will be stationed at Golden Corral, Modern Toyota of Boone, Dan’l Boone Inn and Ingles Market throughout the day. They will be accepting donations and providing information about DAV programs.

“This is a big fundraising day for us,” senior vice commander Dave Pickard said. “This is the only time that we go out and do an active fundraiser; the rest of the time we depend on the community to come forward.”

Pickard said the DAV serves 150 to 200 disabled Watauga County veterans through transportation to medical appointments and fulfilling monetary requests. The DAV depends on private donations to facilitate those services.

DAV members will also be available Friday to help disabled veterans with questions about filing claims with the Veterans Administration.

“A lot of us were hurt in service, and a lot of us never made claims, and the older we get, we find out injury comes back to haunt us in latter years,” he said. “We help veterans get claims for veterans benefits.”

Pickard, a retired Navy electronics technician and reserve training instructor, urges everyone to come forward and support disabled veterans in their community.

“Freedom isn’t free, and these guys fought for our freedom, and they wrote a blank check for the U.S. government up to and including their life, and I think they deserve some recognition,” he said.

Avery County High School

Veterans in Avery County will be provided a free breakfast at the Avery County Senior Center on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 8 to 9 a.m. After breakfast, they will board a bus to Avery County High School, where they will be honored with a veterans ceremony, starting at 10 a.m. in the school gym.

The theme of the ceremony is pride in military service. The Avery County High School JROTC, Student Government Association and the school’s band and choir are providing support for the event.

Blowing Rock American Legion Post 256

The Blowing Rock American Legion Post 256 will conduct a Veterans Day ceremony at the entrance of the Blowing Rock Memorial Park on Friday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m.

If weather issues arise, the ceremony will be held in the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. The auditorium can be accessed via Sunset Drive

Boone Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7031

Members of the Boone Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7031 will participate in Friday’s veterans program at the Boone Mall. Later in the day, they will have dinner and socialize with veterans at Appalachian Brian Estates.

“We’re just going to share the day and let the seasoned veterans share their experiences with us,” senior vice commander Thomas Weeres said. “We’re looking forward to it immensely.”

Members of the VFW will meet at the retirement home at 3 p.m. and are encouraged to bring movies to donate to the facility and its residents.

Watauga American Legion Post 130

In addition to participating in the Boone Mall program, the Watauga American Legion Post 130 will be taking veteran’s stories into local schools. On Thursday, Nov. 10, members will travel to elementary schools in Watauga County to talk about their service and answer questions from students.

New River Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America

The New River Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America will not be holding an event related to Veterans Day, but it does encourage people to make a contribution to the Sears Scholarship via its website,, and vendors in Ashe County.

The Sears Scholarship honors the group’s senior ranking member, retired Navy Rear Adm. Scott L. Sears. Scholarship awards will be given out to JROTC members of Ashe County High School.

Contributors to the scholarship fund will receive a set of 12 high-quality postcards depicting the wall murals of downtown West Jefferson.

Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts

Many businesses in the High Country are offering freebies and discounts to veterans on Veterans Day and the surrounding days. Most of those participating require some form of military ID in order to obtain the offer. Participating businesses include, but are not limited to:

Applebee’s provides a free meal to veterans and active service members all day on Nov. 11. There will be seven options from which to choose.

Chili’s will be serving a free meal to veterans and active duty military on Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Available for dine-in only. Choices include six meals.

Dollar General
Dollar General provides a 10-percent discount on entire purchases all day on Nov. 11 for veterans, active duty military and immediate family members.

Golden Corral
Golden Corral will hold Military Appreciation Monday on Nov. 14, from 5 to 9 p.m. A free meal is offered to veterans and currently serving members of the military.

Outback Steakhouse
Through Friday, Nov. 11, Outback Steakhouse provides free Bloomin’ Onions and Coca-Cola beverages to active duty military and veterans.

Participating Subway stores are offering a free six-inch sub or flatbread to veterans all day on Nov. 11.

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