Friday, July 4, 2008

Oconee Veterans Memorial Dedication

For the past 16 years, I have spent my July 4 mornings running the Peachtree Road Race. Most years afterwards would then involve either hosting or attending cookouts in Atlanta with friends from Oconee, Berry, and the Atlanta Track Club. A combination of family situations, injuries, and illnesses worked together to cancel those plans this year. To say the least it was certainly a little strange to watch the race on TV this morning after all those years of making the 6.2 mile trek down Peachtree.

But it was a great year to be in Watkinsville on the Fourth. First thing this morning my dad, mom and I went to the dedication ceremony for the new Oconee Veterans Memorial. Dad served in Vietnam, and although he rarely mentions it, I wanted him to be among those honored this Independence Day.

There was a large turnout of veterans, their families, and others on a warm summer morning. The black marble memorial and its manicured surroundings have turned out spectacularly. The dedication ceremony was first class, with moving prayers, speeches, and music honoring the veterans still with us and remembering those who have died for their country. The ceremony was certainly a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that have been made to maintain the way of life that we so often take for granted today.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding its initial conception and fundraising efforts, it is obvious that when the business and government leaders of Oconee County put their hearts into something, it is done first class. Kudos to the Oconee Veterans Memorial Foundation board, the Oconee County Government, and Mike Maxey and Mike Power for their contributions of materials and labor from their personal businesses. I could kick myself for not taking my camera, but I'm sure there will be plenty of photos in tomorrow's Athens Banner-Herald.

Afterwards, Susan, Phoebe, Aaron and I also visited downtown Watkinsville for further festivities, and there was a good crowd enjoying the music, food, and various other forms of entertainment. While I missed running Peachtree and catching up with all of our friends, I sure don't miss being sore and I don't think I could have enjoyed a better, more relaxing 4th of July.

That said, I think one year off is enough. Time to get ready for Peachtree '09.

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