This Veterans Day, the citizens of Douglas County, along with fellow Americans, will take time today and on the official day Saturday, to honor the men and woman who have served and fought for our freedom.

The Douglas County and city of Douglasville governments are closed today (Friday) to celebrate the Veterans Day holiday, although Veterans Day is always celebrated on Nov. 11 – regardless of the day it falls. A number of Douglas County businesses are holding special events today to honor employees who served their country.

There are two special events being held on Saturday with for Veterans Day: the opening of the Military Honor Garden at Hunter Park and the “Parade with a Purpose,” the 18th annual Douglas County Veterans Lighted Parade.

The city of Douglasville and Keep Douglasville Beautiful will unveil the new Douglasville Military Honor Garden with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. Following the ribbon cutting at the new honor garden, activities will move to the Douglas County Boys & Girls Club pavilion located just beyond the tennis courts at Hunter Park, for speaker remarks and the program.

Douglasville City Manager Marcia Hampton will give the welcome, followed by the raising of the flags, featuring trumpeter Ashley Lord. Members of the Douglas County, Chapel Hill and Lithia Springs High School JROTC programs will present the colors, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem sung by soloist Drew Stone and accompanied by the Christian Community Orchestra Ensemble.

A prayer will be offered by Garey McManus, followed by comments by Douglasville Mayor Rochelle Robinson. The keynote address will be given by Steve Farris.

Paul Laseter will close the program and a Armed Forces Tribute will be performed by the Christian Community Orchestra Ensemble.

During the evening, the “Parade with a Purpose" will again make its way through Douglasville to honor our veterans, active military, reserves and the U.S. Flag on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

This year marks the 18th year the lighted veterans parade has been held, and it has become a night of flag-waving celebration to honor our veterans.

It was Wes Tallon, recently retired communications and community relations director for Douglas County, who came up with the idea for the parade and had organized and produced the parade since its inception. He said the first two parades were held in the daytime, and then the third year was moved to the night after consulting with the veterans’ organizations.

Veterans groups, scouts, military and reserve units, high school bands and JROTC units will be participating in the annual event, the only known nighttime lighted Veterans Day Parade in the nation.

As of this Wednesday morning, approximately 37 entries had signed up to participate in this year’s parade, including U.S. Navy Sea Cadets Warrior Division, Douglas County High School Army JROTC, the Chapel Hill High School FBLA, Chapel Hill High School Navy JROTC, Alexander High School JROTC and the Lithia Springs High School JROTC.

The Alexander High School Cougar Marching Band and the Chapel Hill High School Panther Band will make appearances during the celebration.

A number of retired veterans are scheduled to participate in the parade, including Chuck Acholes, a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star; Al Gulley Jr. an 81-year-old retired military veteran who will be riding in his Camaro convertible; and Paul H. Bunch, Jr. who is a Vietnam veteran, among others.

The Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Temple will represent the historical Buffalo soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 9th and 10th Calvary.

Douglas County Commission Chairman Romona Jackson Jones, who served three years in the U.S. Army, will participate in the parade. Coming from a military family, Jones’ father, who passed away in 2009, was a Korean War veteran.

The Douglasville Police Department will be escorting the parade through the streets of downtown Douglasville. Douglasville Police Chief Gary Sparks, who served in the military, will be participating in the parade.

The lighted parade starts at 7 p.m. from Douglas County High School and proceeds north on Campbellton Street; west on Church Street; and then south on Bowden, Woodrow and Campbellton Streets back to the high school.

A lighted performance area for bands and drill teams has been designated on Campbellton Street between Spring and Church Streets.

According to Rick Martin, deputy director of communications and community relations, the parade will be recorded and broadcast at a later date on dctv23, the county government’s cable access channel.

This year, the Douglas County Veterans Day lighted parade will also be broadcasting live via Facebook through the Douglas County Happenings Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/douglas.county.happenings/ and promoting a hashtag on social media to allow the world to follow. #onedouglashonorsvets

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