By By Janet Little Cooper
Atmore is home to many veterans who have sacrificed life's comfort and even life itself for the sake of freedom.
These men and women are walking and working among us. They have seen war so that we wouldn't have to. It is our veterans who have paid the price of war, not us.
Atmore has a vested interest in Veterans Day with the past deployment of the local 711th Signal Battalion of the National Guard to Iraq. This battalion was also deployed more than five decades ago for the Korean War.
Atmore is a city rich with veterans. Because of this a special Veteran's Day parade will be held this Friday, Nov. 10 beginning at 10 a.m.
The parade sponsored by the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and the V.F.W. will begin at Atmore City Hall where participants are welcome to line up.
"We will be joined by the V.F.W. and any other veterans who wish to participate in the parade," American Legion commander Aubrey Stanley said. "Those who can march will march and those who cannot may ride. There will be a number of antique cars in the parade that will be able to take riders. Private cars are also welcome."
Local schools have been asked to participate in the parade by making floats to represent war periods. The Legion and the Auxiliary have joined forces to offer prizes for first, second and third places.
"Anyone who wishes to be in the parade will need to meet us at City Hall at 9 a.m.," Stanley said. "The parade will start at 10 a.m. and we are encouraging all supporters to participate."
Area schools in Alabama and Florida will be out of school Friday, Nov. 10 as well in honor of Veteran's Day. In order to pay tribute to veterans a few schools will be holding Veteran's Day programs open to the community.
Ernest Ward Middle School in Walnut Hill, Fla., will have a Veteran's Day assembly in the school's gymnasium at 9:15 on Wednesday, Nov. 8, while just down the road the theatre and drama department of Northview High School will be performing their annual Veteran's Day program on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 11:45 a.m.
Veterans will be recognized at Escambia County High School at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 with a special program. Students at Escambia Academy are planning a veteran's program featuring VFW commander Lavan Martin at 8:30 a.m. on Friday in the basketball gym as well.
The American Legion Auxiliary is conducting a Poppy Campaign this week in order to fund the programs that the American Legion participates in.
"The poppy is not sold, but offered as a "thank you" for contributions," American Legion Auxiliary president Mary Stanley said. "The American Legion adopted the poppy as the organization's memorial flower and pledged it to benefit veterans and their families."
According to Stanley, the poppy is a reminder of the devastation of WWI. It represents the bloodshed to protect our freedom.
Veterans who are hospitalized due to injuries received while defending their country make the poppies.
"Many times we memorialize those who died in the military fighting, but fail to remember those who lives are changed forever as a result of these military actions. It is these veterans who benefit from these contributions."
A large portion of the poppy contributions stay here in Atmore to provide benefits for local veterans while a portion goes back to the hospitalized veterans.
"Every year we buy gifts and provide a Christmas party for the veterans at W.F. Green Home in Bay Minette," Stanley said. "We provide entertainment and visits at other times during the year as well. Then in December we have a Breakfast with Santa for the children of active duty military who will not be home for Christmas."
The Auxiliary will be visiting local businesses this week asking for contributions in the Poppy Campaign. Individuals will have an opportunity to contribute at several locations on Veteran's Day, Sat. Nov. 11 as well.