Cumming, GA

Cumming celebrates those who served during annual Veterans Day event

Justine Lookenott

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The Forsyth County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office Joint Honor Guard at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming(Image by the City of Cumming)

(Forsyth County, GA) On Friday, November 11, over 100 veterans, their families and other attendees gathered under the Cumming Fairgrounds covered arena to celebrate Veterans Day. Originally planned to take place at the Veterans War Memorial, the ceremony was moved to the fairgrounds due to the rainy weather.

Put on by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1030, the ceremony included musical performances by the Flash of Crimson Band from Forsyth Central High School, Artios Academies, the K2 Chorus from Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth, The Java Joes and The Bettie Brigade. The National Anthem was performed by Adrienne and Amelia Gustafson.

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The K2 Chorus from Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth sing at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by the City of Cumming)

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The Bettie Brigade performs at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by Justine Lookenott)

Members of Chapter 1030 Marty Farrell and Steve Masak, Georgia Army National Guard Major John Pirtle and Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow all spoke at the ceremony.

In honor of the U.S. Air Force’s 75th anniversary, Maighen Parke, a 12th grade student from Artios Academies, recited the poem “High Flight” (1941) by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and gave a brief history of the Air Force.

“Today's Air Force has taken the lead on such things as early warning networks, intercontinental ballistic missiles, [various forms of] technology and some of the best jet fighters and pilots in the world,” Parke said. “It is made possible by the thousands of men and women of every race and religion from all over the United States that work in communications, logistics, engineering, medicine, finance, maintenance and security, among many other functions. It is their dedication along with the hallmarks of all of our military personnel, honor, courage, commitment and sacrifice that we celebrate today.”

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Maighen Parke recites the poem “High Flight” and gives a brief history of the U.S. Air Force at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming(Image by the City of Cumming)

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Veterans attend the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by Justine Lookenott)

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Jeff Davis then took the stage to give the keynote address.

Davis served in the United States Marine Corps for 23 years and was deployed twice across the Asia-Pacific region to support several humanitarian operations and joint exercises. He was also deployed twice to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and from 2006 through 2007.

Davis earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Georgia, as well as an M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College.

Originally from Alpharetta, Davis returned to the area with his family in 2018 after retiring from active duty. He currently works as the vice president of audit intelligence operations for DataScan.

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The Bettie Brigade performs at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by the City of Cumming)

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The Java Joes perform at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by the City of Cumming)

After recognizing the sacrifices veterans have made throughout the country's history, Davis gave his thoughts on what he believes is a major threat to the United States and the world (noting that these beliefs do not reflect the U.S. government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Marine Corps).

While the U.S. is no longer involved in active combat operations anywhere around the world, as someone who studied National Strategy, he believes the Chinese Communist Party - not the Chinese people - is a great threat the nation will face over the next two decades.

“Today's battle is not being waged kinetically on an island in the Pacific, but within the economic, diplomatic and information domains where the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to fundamentally alter our global installations and norms established after World War II,” Davis said. “They are backing this by the military, and what we call ‘grey zone operations’ to slowly change the facts on the ground until it’s too late. The proverbial ‘frog in the boiling pot of water.’”

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Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Jeff Davis gives the keynote address at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by the City of Cumming)

A mentor once told him he believed the country was much closer to 1939 than it was to 2049, a belief Davis agrees with. In Davis’ opinion, the U.S. is “spiraling” toward a more dangerous world than the threats the Cold War or the Global War on Terrorism brought.

“So you're sitting here asking yourself ‘what does this have to do with Veterans Day?’” Davis said. “Well, I'm going to say this to my fellow veterans that are out there and those of you who support us. When you raised your right hand, you understood the perils that you could face and the consequences of that choice…you believed that when you stood together as a family, nothing was impossible. So as we stand here today, there are bigger threats looming on the horizon, and I will tell you this, the success of our American experiment is not guaranteed but rests on our ability to meet those challenges together. Our nation needs its veterans to be engaged in the preservation of our way of life.”

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The Flash of Crimson Band from Forsyth Central High School perform at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by Justine Lookenott)

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A banner at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Cumming on Nov. 11(Image by the City of Cumming)

The ceremony ended with The Java Joes and The Bettie Brigade performing “Gee Ma, I want to go home.”

If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at justine.lookenott@newsbreak.com.

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I cover local news in Forsyth County, GA. My debut into the writing world began at the age of 10 when I won an essay contest in Around Acworth Magazine in which I wrote about spending the summer with my pet goat, Eclair. Since graduating from Kennesaw State University, I have been published in several newspapers and magazines in the Atlanta area including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta School Guide, What Now Atlanta, Newcomer Magazine, the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cherokee Tribune.

Forsyth County, GA
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