A large crowd of young and old gathered in front of the Freeport City Hall Monday to celebrate the Freedoms Veterans protect for us. Local veterans were joined by elected officials, the Freeport Town Planters, Glenda Penton and residents to honor veterans and dedicate another addition to the City’s memorial. The new Fallen Soldiers Monument depicts a woman kneeling at the grave of a soldier.
Freeport native Jerry Hatcher, Captain US Navy retired, spoke about what it takes to be a soldier or sailor. He served and was awarded a number of honors, mostly for his work with helicopters. Latelda Henniger, Freeport’s City Planner, sang the National Anthem and the Walton High Air Force Jr. ROTC presented the Colors and raised flags of each military branch. Tim Ard, Fallen Veterans Memorial Chair gave the introductions and told of the effort to bring the memorial to the grounds. Marty Faircloth with Woodmen of the World noted the gift of flags. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office gave a gun salute, played Taps and two men in kilts played Amazing grace on the drum and bagpipes. Russ Barley and Eleanor Turner placed the wreath on the monument. The day took time to remember all veterans, not just the fallen, but those who have served and are still serving.
Glenda Penton, whose son Timothy Padgett lost his life in service, spoke. She has taken up the banner of making sure Padgett’s sacrifice and that of others is not forgotten.
As people gathered in Freeport to celebrate Veterans Day and honor those who have served and are in service, Sam Houston with the Military Order of the Purple Heart spoke. He told those gathered there has been a change since the soldiers who came home from Viet Nam were greeted with anger and hatred. He says we now know that any disagreement is with the policies, not the soldier.