Jonesville vets join Natchez program

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Natchez &8212; About 75 people gathered in Memorial Park for the annual Veterans Day program Friday. Friends Dick Daggett and Bill Craddock of Jonesville, La., were among them.

Both veterans of World War II, they were on opposite sides of the globe during the war years, Craddock becoming a POW in Germany and Daggett picked up by Chinese guerillas when his fighter plane went down not far from Japanese lines.

&8220;We started coming to this program four or five years ago,&8221; Daggett said. &8220;When we were in the parade that first year, someone called out &8216;thank you&8217; to us. It was the first time in 55 years anyone had said thank you.&8221;

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They experienced another gesture of thanks Friday morning, when a stranger came to their table and picked up the check for their breakfast, Daggett said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Smith of Natchez, 25, knows the veterans now in their 80s deserve his thanks. Dressed smartly in his dress uniform, Smith, an Alcorn State University graduate, said older veterans merit &8220;many thanks&8221; from the younger military men and women.

&8220;They paved the way for us,&8221; said Smith, whose goal is to become a drill instructor and a Marine officer and then to make a career in the Marines.

Veterans representing all wars from the 1940s forward attended the program, where patriotic songs and prayers punctuated the solemn program.

John Goodrich, a retired Army officer and helicopter pilot, gave the keynote address. He spoke of the honor of serving and the honor due those who have served.

&8220;Each person who just stood before you spoke and honored these words, these words which evoke senses of pride, honor, and accomplishment,&8221; he said, referring to the veterans just introduced and to their commitment to country through oaths they took to serve.

&8220;We each served our country, some for six months and some for 30 years.

Two of the gentlemen sitting behind me served overseas in three wars; many who served never left the shores of the United States,&8221; Goodrich said. &8220;The important thing to remember is that most served with honor and pride.&8221;

Alderman David Massey, a veteran of the Vietnam War, spoke briefly as a representative of the city. &8220;Natchez has always been proud of its veterans,&8221; he said. &8220;One thing we all have in common is that our country called; we served; and now we live in the greatest country in the world.&8221;

James Calhoun, who served in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, gave the invocation. &8220;There are still men and women serving in the military who are in harm&8217;s way. Let&8217;s not forget them,&8221; he said.