On a chilly Saturday morning, hundreds of people lined the streets of Conway for a special celebration dedicated to Veterans Day.
“Because of veterans, every American walks a little prouder,” retired Maj. Gen. Laurie Newton said. “Because of veterans and their families and the sacrifices they have made, our flag flies a little higher. It is because of veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made, that freedom is a little bit stronger in the world today.”
The Conway Veterans Day Ceremony started off with a parade through Conway before returning to the grounds of the Horry County Courthouse for the remainder of the ceremony.
Members of the Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 925 and the Knights of Columbus honored Vietnam Veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Courthouse with a wreath laying and flag folding.
In a somber remembrance of the lives lost in service, members of the Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 925 read off the names engraved in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial out front of the Horry County Courthouse in honor of the people of this community that went to war and never came home.
The ceremony then moved down the street to the Veterans Memorial that honors all veterans who have served the country in all wars.
Several people who came to celebrate Veterans Day were also veterans themselves, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Israel Parker.
“When we come together at events like these to celebrate Veterans Day, we are honoring the people that came before us, the people that are still serving and the people that will serve in future years,” Parker said. “For me, it seems that this event gets bigger every year and that definitely is a great sign of respect for what veterans have done for this country.”
After a performance of the national anthem by Conway Christian School, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Jones, who is also the deputy adjutant general of South Carolina, spoke to the crowd about the importance of Veterans Day and the importance of veterans.
“Recognition, remembrance and responsibility are the three ways we can do our part to celebrate Veterans Day and veterans,” Jones said. “We have to recognize that as we stand here right now, they are people in 80 countries around the world, in the air, on the sea, under the sea and even in space, protecting the daily freedoms we have. We have to remember the sacrifices that our servicemen and women have made as well as their families. And we have a responsibility to care for our veterans when they come home from war.”
Jones took the time to thank the community for welcoming the National Guard in recent years despite the challenges the county has faced with flooding, particularly from Hurricane Florence in 2018.
“It’s been an honor to respond to the people of this community, although I hate that we had to,” Jones said. “I would like to personally thank the people of Horry County for all that you do when our guardsmen arrive in the community. The fact that you took time to bring us food, offered to wash the uniforms of guardsmen, and bring us toiletries by the armory reinforces the notion that Horry County is a special place.”
Jones shared several stories of his time in the military, but there’s one moment in his career that stood out. It was when a World War II veteran went the extra mile to make him and his fellow soldiers feel welcome.
“I get incredibly emotional every time I tell the story,” Jones said. “We had just landed at Dover Air Force Base after midnight. As we walked across the tarmac to reach a terminal, there were four gentlemen waiting to greet us. The first one handed us a cup of coffee. The second one handed us a sandwich. The third one handed us a New Testament in case we had lost ours during our deployment. And the fourth person was a World War II veteran in a wheelchair. And he had his son help him stand up so he could salute us.”