The event began with a fly over by Carlos Gann in a yellow single-engine T-34 Mentor.
Brian Hall Jackson of LaFayette led “The Pledge of Allegiance.”
The LaFayette JROTC presented the American flag in addition to conducting the boots and taps drill, displaying a rifle, pair of boots, dog tags and helmet as a salute for soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Ridgeland band member Leif Atchley played “Taps” on the trumpet.
Retired General Ron Griffith from Rossville spoke about how endearing civilians welcome home soldiers in recent years and how our service personnel appreciate the respect. He introduced Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks, whom he had served with as his commanding officer and has become a close friend through the years.
“This community takes the time to say thanks collectively,” Gen. Brooks said.
He commended the veterans for being the one percent of the nation that puts on the uniform and serves the country.
He gave a special thanks to Brian Hall Jackson, calling the veteran from LaFayette “a national treasure.”
“He is a patriot that loves America and his hometown,” Brooks said.
Brooks travels frequently, having been to 15 of the 20 Middle Eastern nations that is served by the Third Army, which he commanded in the past year.
“We are a nation that is admired around the world,” Brooks said. “They admire and respect that we can choose our own path. We do not go to war for conquest — we go to give freedom.”
He gave heartfelt thanks to the service men and women present, especially the Vietnam veterans.
“Our generation (of soldiers) shares the nation’s respect with the previous Vietnam generation,” Brooks said.
Several dozen veterans lined up to have their photo taken with Gen. Brooks and other dignitaries.
The veterans feasted on 75 pounds of ribs, 150 pounds of pork, 150 pounds of chicken and 60 pound of hot dogs and hamburger.