Salute to service

Euharlee’s inaugural Veterans Honor Walk, exhibit kick off Saturday

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Looking forward to taking part in Euharlee’s Stars and Stripes Project, David H. Ford Sr. is embracing the opportunity to observe Veterans Day in his hometown. Starting with a desire to flank the historic district’s roadway with American flags, the outreach effort — spearheaded by the city of Euharlee and the Euharlee Historical Society — now has expanded to include a patriotic parade Saturday and temporary exhibit.

Born in Cartersville in March 1944, Ford enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1962 and retired after 32 years of service.

“After completing high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army to further my education and to become a career soldier,” he said. “I served during the Vietnam War from 1966-1969. Additionally, I served during the Panama Invasion, Persian Gulf War and Desert Shield/Storm.

“My area of training and expertise is in logistics management. It was my job to ensure that all combat and combat support forces had the supplies and equipment needed. Even during peacetime, it was incumbent on me to make sure that the necessary supplies were on hand and ready in the event of war.”

During his military career, Ford received numerous accolades and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two OLCs, Army Achievement Medal with OLC, Good Conduct Medal with OLC, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with five service stars, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He also was among the first three African-American chief warrant officers chosen by the Department of the Army to attend the Master Warrant Officer Career College and be promoted to master warrant officer four.

Along with participating in Euharlee’s Veterans Honor Walk, Ford has loaned various items from his military service to the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum’s “Commemorating Our Veterans” exhibit.
 
“The items on loan for the exhibit consists of awards, photos, plaques,” he said. “Included is a beret with rank insignia while I was assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The items give a glimpse into the more than 30 years that I served my country. My last duty station was Fort Bragg. I retired June 1994 with the rank of master warrant officer four, which was the highest rank in the Warrant Officer Corps when I retired.

“I do plan to participate in the Veterans Walk this Saturday. U.S. flags lining a portion of Covered Bridge Road in honor of Veterans Day for the first time is a moment in … history for our city. The Veterans Walk along with the exhibit is an opportunity to involve the community.”

Open to all U.S. veterans, the inaugural walk will begin at 2 p.m. at the Euharlee Masonic Lodge on Covered Bridge Road and proceed to the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum. Participants will need to arrive at 1:30 p.m. If needed, transportation will be provided to veterans during the event.

The Stars and Stripes Project kicked off in July to raise funds to purchase flags to line Covered Bridge Road from the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum to the city’s covered bridge landmark. The drive generated nearly $2,500, which went toward obtaining 100 flags and a Euharlee Historical Society scholarship.

“This project — the U.S. flags and the Veterans Walk — is the idea and initiative of the Euharlee Special Events Steering Committee,” said Katie Gobbi, director of the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum. “The committee has been tasked with adding value to the city through events and programs.

“They hope through this project that they will be able to honor the veterans in and around our community for their service and sacrifice. The chair of the committee, Eric Smithey, was inspired by similar demonstrations in Kennesaw, Rockmart and elsewhere. The mayor and city council supported the plan and the committee has been working to build partnerships to make this project and event happen.”

Opening Saturday, “Commemorating Our Veterans” will be displayed at the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum — 33 Covered Bridge Road — through Dec. 8.

“When the committee started planning the Veterans Walk, we thought that the Euharlee Welcome Center and History Museum would be a good place to end and host a reception,” Gobbi said, adding both events are free and open to the public. “That led to the idea of a temporary exhibit. Some of the items in the exhibit are from our collection and some have been loaned to us by local residents and the Bartow History Museum. We will be adding some elements from this exhibit to our permanent exhibition in the future.

“We have a selection of uniform pieces from WWII through present day — jackets, berets, helmets, etc. We will display some awards, photographs, postcards and letters from their time in service. We have draft cards and registrations from WWI as well. We have a U.S. flag that flew in Africa during WWII. We have hand-carved model military airplanes. One highlight of the exhibit is a canteen cup from WWII that has every place that the Army service member went carved into it — from Camp Gordon to Paris, France.”

For more information about the Stars and Stripes Project , contact Gobbi at kgobbi@euharlee.com or 770-607-2017, or follow the Euharlee Welcome Center & History Museum on Facebook @EuharleeHistoryMuseum.