Honoring Those Who Served

• County seat hosts ceremony, parade.
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Daily Record Photo/Tome Woerner - The family of deceased veteran Willis C. Langdon is shown here receiving awards he earned during his time of service. The awards were presented at Friday's Harnett County Veterans Day service by Lt. Col. Marcus Wright. From left are Lt. Col. Wright, Doris Langdon and Donald Langdon.
Daily Record Photo/Tome Woerner – The family of deceased veteran Willis C. Langdon is shown here receiving awards he earned during his time of service. The awards were presented at Friday’s Harnett County Veterans Day service by Lt. Col. Marcus Wright. From left are Lt. Col. Wright, Doris Langdon and Donald Langdon.

By TOM WOERNER
Of The Record Staff

Hundreds of citizens came out to events in Lillington Friday to honor men and women who have served their nation in military service.

One of the largest crowds in recent memory came out for the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the county’s Veterans Memorial Park in front of the courthouse. There was standing room only at the event which, this year, honored several local heroes with special medal presentations.

Left, World War II veteran Booker T. Williams of the Shawtown community, was one of four veterans who received special awards at Friday’s Veterans Day Service in Lillington. He received his award from local veteran and former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.
Left, World War II veteran Booker T. Williams of the Shawtown community, was one of four veterans who received special awards at Friday’s Veterans Day Service in Lillington. He received his award from local veteran and former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge presented a special award to 101-year-old Booker T. Williams, one of the county’s oldest living veterans. He noted he was not only honoring Mr. Williams, but also his family who remained home while he served.

“When we honor veterans we know we are really honoring their families,” Mr. Etheridge said. “I am sure that is the case with Mr. Williams and I am proud to be here today to honor him.”

Mr. Williams lives in the Shawtown community. He is a World War II veteran who served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Veteran Bienvenidos Tores was also scheduled to be honored but he was not able to attend. Mr. Tores is a Korean War veteran who was born in the Phllipines and survived the Japanese occupation of that country. His medals will be presented at a later date.

The families of veterans Willis Langdon and Ezra Darroch were also honored. Both men were veterans of World War II. Mr. Langdon was the father of former Harnett County Clerk of Court Dianne Hatley who returned to the area from Florida where she now lives to participate in the event.

Lt. Col. Marcus W. Wright, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team 1-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the guest speaker at this year’s event. He outlined the history of Veterans Day, dating back to when it was formed as a tribute to veterans of World War I, then labeled as the war to end all wars. Originally the holiday was called Armistice Day.

“Today we honor all veterans who have served,” Lt. Col. Wright said. “It is an honor for me to be here today to do that.”

As usual the event was a spirited affair, highlighted by the playing of theme songs from each branch of the military. It was culminated by a solemn laying of a wreath in honor of veterans near the county’s memorials in the park.

Veterans said they appreciated the effort.

Dialy Record Photo/Tom Woerner - Elyssa Mead, left, and Madison Michaels take in the annual Harnett County Veterans Day parade which was held in Lillington Saturday following a luncheon provided by Ernest Simmons VFW Post and a Veterans Day ceremony that morning.
Dialy Record Photo/Tom Woerner – Elyssa Mead, left, and Madison Michaels take in the annual Harnett County Veterans Day parade which was held in Lillington Saturday following a luncheon provided by Ernest Simmons VFW Post and a Veterans Day ceremony that morning.

“It gets your blood flowing,” veteran Kenneth Upchurch said.

“It is good to see so many people come out,” U.S. Navy veteran Bob Stewart said.

Mr. Stewart is from the Mamers community and served during the first Gulf War.

Parade

Following lunch provided by members of the Ernest Simmons Veterans of Foreign Wars, veterans moved downtown for the annual Veterans Day parade.

A local veterans motorcycle organization led the affair which proceeded down Main and Front streets in front of crowds bundled against some of the coldest weather of the season.

They were joined by local high school bands playing patriotic music as they moved through the area. Other veterans organizations, some riding through on impressive military equipment, were also part of the parade along with elected officials and local law enforcement leaders.

The event is held as the official parade for the county. It was previously rotated to different towns before moving to Lillingon permanently several years ago.

One lady, Linda Dixon, said she comes each year to honor her family’s heritage.

“I have a lot of military in my family, so I think this is important,” Ms. Dixon said. “It also gives the kids something to do while they are out of school.”

“It is another way we can honor the veterans who gave a lot for our country,” said Richard Dean, from the Bunnlevel area.

Daily Record Photo/Tom Woerner - The family of deceased veteran Ezra Darroch received several awards he earned in his time of service. Harnett County Veterans Services Officer John Elskamp and Lt. Col. Marcus Wright presented the awards. Family members shown are Dorothy Turlington and Ezra Coleman-Turlington.
Daily Record Photo/Tom Woerner – The family of deceased veteran Ezra Darroch received several awards he earned in his time of service. Harnett County Veterans Services Officer John Elskamp and Lt. Col. Marcus Wright presented the awards. Family members shown are Dorothy Turlington and Ezra Coleman-Turlington.

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