Valdosta Daily Times

November 12, 2013

Wiregrass honors those who served

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A chill in the air and a bright blue sky welcomed spectators to the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Veterans Day ceremony. A crowd of over 100 students, staff, local veterans and family members gathered together to honor America’s service men and women.

The ceremony began with Wiregrass President Dr. Tina Anderson welcoming everyone. “This is a special day for all of us, for all communities, but especially for communities like ours. We have so many veterans here and the base here. We want to say thank you. This is a tribute to people who have given so much to us and are still giving to us.”

During the ceremony, Retired Col. Nick Lacey and Green Beret Danny Gay were brought forward to share their experiences as veterans.

Lacey began his speech by sharing the history of Veterans Day. He then had every veteran or veteran family member raise their hands to be recognized. He also shared the stories of three of his veteran heroes-- his father, brother-in-law and one of his classmates from the Air Force Academy.

He shared the lessons that he learned from them as well. From his father, he learned to stay positive. “The glass is 80 percent full, not 20 percent empty,” said Lacey. From his brother-in-law he learned, “Never give up.”

He concluded by sharing the lesson from his classmate, a prisoner of war survivor, “It’s not the challenges we face in life that are important. It’s how we handle them. It’s how well we play the cards of life that we are dealt.”

The next speaker was Danny Gay, a Green Beret. He was introduced by his daughter April McDuffie. McDuffie said, “He is my personal hero.”

Gay shared his appreciation for all veterans and for the courage that they must have to serve. He recalled his first trip to the Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington. He said of the experience, “As a veteran, you walk up to the wall and see their names and wonder why it was them and not you. They gave their all and I didn’t have to. We are here to honor them today. Today I would just like to say God Bless America and God bless our veterans that have given so much.”

The ceremony concluded with Lisa Tomberlin reading the roll call of student, staff and faculty veterans. Wiregrass has 222 veterans across their four campuses, 171 in Valdosta alone. They also have 23 employee veterans.