Celebration honors the area’s veterans

Erin Smith Staff writer

November 8, 2013

ELIZABETHTOWN — The eighth annual Bladen County Veteran’s Day Ceremony was held Friday morning at the National Guard Armory in Elizabethtown. The guest speaker for the event was Command Sgt. Major LeRoy Purdie, U.S. Army retired.

A memorial tribute was given in honor of Mildred Clark, U.S. Army Nurse Corps retired.

Ann Garrett, one of the event’s organizers, recognized Johnny Clark, the nephew of Mildred Clark, who spoke fondly of his aunt.

“She was very busy and prominent woman,” said Johnny Clark. “She loved her community and her family. She did much work behind the scenes.”

Johnny Clark said she worked diligently to get the status of “General” for women. Once she accomplished that, she stepped down so that her predecessor could hold the honor.

There was a program of music also offered by the West Bladen High School Band.

The Veteran’s Day Essay Contest winners were also announced. They were: Grand prize, Grace Anne Glenn, an eighth-grader at Clarkton School of Discovery. In the middle school division, there was tie for first place between Pierce Melvin, a seventh-grader at CSD, and Jacob Barbour, an eighth-grader at CSD. Second place was awarded to Grayson Heustess, a seventh-grader at CSD, and there was a tie for third between Joshua Babson, a sixth-grader, and Reed Taylor a seventh-grader, both at CSD.

In the high school division, first place was awarded to Phillip Rankin, a senior at West Bladen High School. Second place was awarded to Haley Hall, also a senior at West Bladen; and third place was awarded to West Bladen Senior Mariah Bowman.

The event was well attended both by veterans and their families. There was a musical performance by the West Bladen High School Band and the national anthem and special music were performed by Clarissa Allen, Victoria Pait and Charity Pait. The VFW members also placed a wreath in honor of fallen veterans. There was also a demonstration by the East Bladen and West Bladen high school JROTC drill teams.

Lunch was served following the ceremonies.

The Veterans’ Day celebration in Elizabethtown was begun almost 10 years ago when Ann Garrett presented a proclamation to the Elizabethtown Town Council declaring the week of Nov. 11 as “Hire a Veteran Week,” and she made the comment to the council then that she would like to see a Veteran’s Day celebration in the town.

In an earlier interview with the Bladen Journal, Garrett said after the meeting she was asked by then-Town Manager David Bone if she could organize a Veteran’s Day celebration.