November 12-- Area veterans were honored Monday at the annual Veterans' Day banquet hosted by the Downtown Vidalia Association.
Youngsters from the Cornerstone Children's Center got the ceremony off to a rousing start with their rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy!"
The keynote speaker, former Navy SEAL Fred Godbee of Vidalia, saluted veterans for their service and noted the sacrifices being made today by members of the United States armed forces, "It's massive I don't think people understand how increased the divorce rate is, the suicide rate among veteran populations and how many walking wounded have come back. You've got spouses who are having to step up and deal with a lot of problems."
For those reasons, Godbee would like to see less emphasis on "nation-building," which he says is something for which the U.S. military is not well suited.
"I think most politicians up in Washington put themselves and their campaigns before their constituents. They don't think about the impact it's having on people. We've proven as a country that we're pretty horrible at building nations. One thing we're great at though, we can punish you, but I'm not sure we're great at all in building nations, so let's let somebody else do that," Godbee said.
Because of the impact the Navy had on him, Godbee would like to see more young people join one of the military services, "I would encourage everybody who's coming out of high school to consider military service. My son's doing it now and my other two may. It was the best time of my life, I loved it. You learn service, you learn excellence, you're serving your country and others and there's a history and comradeship behind it that you can't understand until you get out there and do it," he said.
Veterans from American Legion Post 97 presented the service flags of the Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, Army and Navy.