Atmore area veterans, including VFW Post Commander Billy Gates, front right, salute during the playing of the national anthem at Tuesday’s meeting of the Atmore City Council.
Atmore area veterans, including VFW Post Commander Billy Gates, front right, salute during the playing of the national anthem at Tuesday’s meeting of the Atmore City Council.

City honors veterans

Published 8:04pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The sounds of the national anthem and “God Bless America” filled the auditorium of Atmore City Hall on Tuesday, as the city honored its veterans during a special ceremony.
The ceremony was held as part of the regular meeting of the Atmore City Council. The council typically meets every second and fourth Monday of the month, but postponed its meeting until Tuesday due to the Veterans Day holiday.
About 30 veterans were in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony, where they were greeted outside the city hall by the flying of an enormous U.S. flag from an Atmore Fire Department ladder truck. Two more large flags hung behind the city council members at the front of the auditorium, and there were several times where the crowd broke into applause and standing ovation at the veterans and their sacrifices.
“This is just fantastic,” said Mayor Jim Staff, of the festivities. “That’s all there is to it.”
Sandy Hollinger and Magan Young led the singing of the national anthem, Lana Langford performed Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and Whitney McGill Mahalovich sang “God Bless America.” David Gehman also performed Taps on his trumpet, and was then joined by his son Stephen in the playing of the national anthem for a second time.
At one point in the meeting, VFW Post Commander Billy Gates thanked the city for welcoming the veterans.
“Mayor, thank you and the city council for hosting us today,” Gates said.
Staff quickly responded, leading to another standing ovation.
“It’s us that thank y’all,” he said.
Staff later read a proclamation thanking the veterans for their service, and refreshments and fellowship followed the end of the meeting.
The Rev. Debora Bishop of First United Methodist Church led the closing prayer, and also offered an anecdote about her own experience as a veteran of the Marine Corps. She said that she was at seminary when a professor started offering his opinion about what women could and couldn’t do.
She said the other students knew about Bishop’s 20 years in the Marine Corps and wondered why she didn’t quickly argue against the professor’s opinion.
“They said, ‘Aren’t you going to say something to him,’” she said. “I said, ‘I spent 20 years of my life defending his right to have his own opinion.’ And I got to do that, because of what you [veterans] all did for us.”
The Rev. Darryl North of the Empowerment Tabernacle Church of God in Christ offered the invocation at Tuesday’s meeting.

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