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Appreciation for country — and those who protect it

Meredith Gibson waved two flags — the U.S. Marine Corps flag to pay tribute to her husband, Lawrence Gibson, and an American flag to honor all of those who have served and are serving in the U.S. military today.

And like many attending Thursday’s return of the Veterans Day Parade, Gibson arrived more than an hour before its start in order to get a good seat.

She placed her seated walker next to the reviewing stand on North Center Street to ensure she had a front-row seat.

“My husband was in the Marine Corps, and he will be on the float for the Marine Corps League today,” Gibson said. “He was also in the Air Force.

“I think people ought to appreciate their country and what has been done by the soldiers of this county for them — how they have given up their time and their families at times.”

Many in the military have made the ultimate sacrifice, she said.

The Gibsons married while he was in the Marine Corps, but he left when they had a child. He later wanted to return to the Marine Corps, but was turned down because he was married and had a child, she said.

He went into the Air Force, even though the Marine Corps was his first love over the Air Force, she said.

“It was the height of the Vietnam War, so I am glad he did not go back into the Marines,” Gibson said.

She joked that her husband was “one of those little fellows” and probably would have been a “tunnel rat” who crawled into small tunnels to flush out the enemy.

Gibson was among a crowd estimated at upward of 5,000 that lined both sides of the Center Street parade route from Ash Street to Pine Street. After reaching Pine Street, the parade turned onto the east side of Center Street and headed north, passing City Hall before disbanding just north of Ash Street.

The parade, sponsored by the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition, had about 60 entries but many had multiple units that totaled about 100.

It included high school bands, high school ROTC units, airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, fire trucks, classic cars, Boy and Girl Scouts and floats.

Goldsboro has had a Veterans Day parade every year since 1972, until last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellation of many community events, including the Veterans Day Parade.

Spectators and city officials expressed joy that the parade was able to return this year and expressed hope that it is a sign things are returning to pre-pandemic conditions.

“I am glad it (parade) is here,” Gibson said. “It is good to see.”

Special remarks were delivered by Col. Tammy McElhaney, commander 4th Mission Support Group on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

“Good morning,” she said. “I would first like to thank all of you for attending today. Your support to our veterans means a lot, and your attendance here today shows that.”

McElhaney reiterated that in 1919 Nov. 11 was deemed as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I.

The name was later changed to Veterans Day to honor all who have served in the past and all who are currently serving, she said.

“To serve one’s country in the armed forces is indeed a privilege and an honor that requires patriotism, dedication to duty and sacrifice,” McElhaney said. “Decades may separate some veterans, but our common bond resides in the fact that we heard our nation’s call and we answered in times of peace and war.”

Less than 1% of the current U.S. population is serving in the military and 10% of the population has served in their lifetime, she said.

“We serve because we believe in this great country and our communities like the one here in Goldsboro,” McElhaney said. “We believe in what they stand for — the preservation of our liberty and freedom as defined by our Constitution.

“We are dedicated to our duty because we are this nation’s sword and shield to defend this country against all enemies even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. However, our sacrifices would be in vain without the support of our families and our local communities.”

Family and community are the foundation of military service, she said.

The support and displays of gratitude like the Veterans Day Parade show all veterans their sacrifices are indeed not in vain, McElhaney said.

“We thank you for your support because it tells us that what we have done for our country and what we continue to do truly matters and we can hold our heads up high and say we have proudly served in the U.S. military.

“God bless America, and God bless you all.”

A proclamation in honor of Veterans Day was presented by Goldsboro Mayor David Ham, who served more than 25 years in the U.S. Army, entering as a private and retiring in 1986 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Following the parade, Ham said being able to have the event this year gave people the opportunity to turn out and show their support of veterans.

“They couldn’t do it last year,” he said. “We had a larger turnout this year than we have had in a few years. I am glad to see it. I think we should never forget our veterans.

“And this is a good example of people showing their appreciation for veterans. I don’t know if this is the largest one we have had in recent times, but to me it was certainly a grand showing of appreciation, and I think the public enjoyed it as well.”

More events are upcoming including Lights Up later this month and the Christmas Parade in December, Ham said.

“So definitely things are beginning to come back,” he said. “I won’t say it is back to normal necessarily, but there are events we are seeing happening this year that did not happen last year.

“I am very happy for that.”

Connie Powell was happy as well to see the Veterans Day Parade return.

Powell attended to represent her late husband, Daniel Powell, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force for 21 years.

Making up for not having one last year, Thursday’s event was wonderful, Powell said.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “The weather was very cooperative, too. I think everybody is enjoying what is going on out here now.

“I think everybody is fascinated and appreciative of what is happening here. I am here honoring him and all of our veterans.”

Crystal Ours enjoyed the parade, but also enjoyed watching her excited 3-year-old daughter Ashley Jimenez-Ours.

Crystal Ours’ grandfather served in World War II and the Korean War.

“So, I come to every Veterans Day to celebrate the upcoming veterans and past veterans,” she said. “She (Ashley) likes to see the parade and the veterans. Both of my boys do, too, as well. This year was better than the year before COVID.

“I liked it. She likes the dancers and the ROTCs.”

Extension and Community Association brings back spirit of Christmas

Need some gifts for family, friends or co-workers this year?

You can find a multitude of items at the annual Wayne County Extension and Community Association’s 2021 Christmas Bazaar.

It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Maxwell Center on Wayne Memorial Drive. Admission is free.

This will be the group’s 38th Christmas bazaar. Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic, said Maryann George with the ECA organization.

“We have almost 70 vendors, who come from all over eastern North Carolina, including Wilmington, Warsaw and Greenville,” she said. “ECA will not have food at the bazaar because of COVID-19.”

Vendors include Handmade by Sandra Isle, Clay and Such, Lilla Rose and Fairy Hair, Gracefully Southern, Glory B’s Natural Products, Little River Metalworks, Sweet Carolina Soap, Watercolors by Robin, Morganically Grown, The Gilded Oyster, Tiny Tots by Jane, Damsel in Defense, Origami Owl, Usborne Books and More and Honey Hill.

George said that more than 2,000 people shopped at the 2019 ECA Christmas Bazaar.

“The bazaar has a Christmas theme, and will have plenty of Christmas items,” she said, “but we will have more than holiday gifts. We will have handmade jewelry, wreaths, soaps, personalized gifts, home décor, clothing, books, artwork and wood craft items — something for everyone.”

The vendors take a variety of payments, including cash, debit card, check and credit card, depending on the vendor, George said.

“The bazaar has become one of the ECA’s largest fundraisers that helps support its mission to give back to Wayne County and beyond,” she said.

“ECA donates items to local teachers for their classrooms. ECA has paired up with the Alzheimer’s Association to help educate people in the area about the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and where to find help for the patients and their families.”

George said ECA also supports Cures for the Colors. Its program Power of Girls helps local teenage girls learn how to cook, take care of themselves, budgeting and other life skills. A sewing group makes clothing for children all over the world. And at Christmas ECA members make food baskets and deliver them to local residents in need.

“We are blessed to have this group of women in our community,” she said.

For more information, call 919-731-1500.

Pickles, pigs, swigs combine for a celebration

Pickles, barbecued pork and craft beers will headline a new festival later this month.

Mount Olive will hold its first ever Pickles, Pigs and Swigs festival Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Southern Bank parking lot at the corner of Center and Main streets.

“The pickles part of the festival will be employees of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. giving away free pickle samples,” said Lynn Williams, public relations manager for the company and a festival committee member.

“We’ll have an area set up where people can come by and try some of our pickles. No jars of pickles will be sold. We don’t want people walking downtown with a lot of glass jars.”

The pigs part of the festival will be a whole-hog barbecue competition, a North Carolina Pork Council-sanctioned event, with 20 teams entered.

“We have a great lineup of teams cooking in the competition, including several former state champions,” said Julie Beck, president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce and event chairman. “This event will really feature some of the best Eastern North Carolina barbecue around.”

Cooks can start setting up at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 in the town hall parking lot, Williams said. Spectators are welcome to stop by and watch the cooking competition, which will start at 8 p.m. that night and continue throughout the night. Winners will be announced at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Judges for the barbecue contest will be North Carolina Pork Council-sanctioned.

According to pork council rules, Williams said, the pork is not seasoned by the cooks.

“Once the competition is over, we’ll collect all the pork that they’ve cooked, and we add the seasoning to it,” Williams said.

Then barbecue plates of fresh-cooked pork, coleslaw, potatoes and hush puppies will be sold at $10 per plate. Plates will be available at the festival and also at a drive-thru at the Mount Olive Historic Depot.

Advance tickets for the barbecue are available at Mount Olive Town Hall, the Mount Olive Chamber office at 123 N. Center St., R&R Brewing and Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift shop. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the event.

The swigs part of the festival will be local R&R Brewing Co. and a couple of other local breweries selling craft beers downtown that Saturday.

“They will be selling beer downtown,” Williams said. “We’ll have that area set up by the stage so people can sit out and enjoy it. Local brews will be for sale throughout the day. You will have to have an ID to buy it.”

The festival will also feature live bluegrass music by Wilson-based Shannon Baker and Sometime Soon at 11 a.m., followed by local group The Harmony Boys from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and ending with Riggsbee Road, an all-female country and bluegrass Raleigh band led by Mount Olive native Shelley Kelly from 4 to 6 p.m.

There is no admission fee for the festival.

The festival came about when a group of Mount Olive residents got together and started brainstorming what they could do to show others the things they love about their town and the things that represent eastern North Carolina.

“And it just made sense — a Pickles, Pigs and Swigs Festival,” Williams said.

The Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce is officially coordinating the festival, but it’s a joint effort between the chamber, the town of Mount Olive and the Mount Olive Downtown Community Development Committee.

And not only will it be fun, Williams said, it is for a good cause, too. Proceeds will be used to help fund a master plan for downtown.

“A collective group of people in Mount Olive has always wanted to do a fall event because the weather’s really nice and it’s a good time and it gives a good balance to the festival,” Williams said.

“And we wanted to do something to benefit the Mount Olive Community Development Corp. because we hoped at some point, sooner or later, to put together a master plan for downtown and ways that we can improve it.

“This is one way. It creates an event for Mount Olive. It draws people to downtown, then the proceeds would help advance community development.”

The hope is that the Pickles, Pigs and Swigs Festival will become an annual event in Mount Olive.

Wreath ceremony honors devotion of all who served

Katherine Wolfe said she will always remember her early school days on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

She and her classmates sang “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” (the Marines’ Hymn) followed by the national anthem while her father fought overseas in World War II during the Battle of Okinawa.

Thursday afternoon, Wolfe, now regent of the David Williams Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, led a memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony at the Wayne County Veterans Memorial.

Sponsored by the chapter, the ceremony followed Thursday morning’s Veterans Day Parade.

“To all of the veterans here today, I sincerely thank you for your service and your sacrifice,” Wolfe said. “And to all I say thank you for choosing to honor veterans today and show your support for our heroes, past and present. In the words of President Truman, ‘Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.’

“On this 11th day of the 11th month following the parade at the 11th hour, we gather to honor and remember veterans from Revolutionary soldiers at Valley Forge who shivered and starved in the winter to the Doughboys in the muddy trenches in France to the platoons who patrolled the jungles of Vietnam to the young men and women who patrolled the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert of Syria. We honor you.”

Wolfe said that in her lifetime the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have fought in battles from WWII to Afghanistan.

“Thank you for attending this service today,” she said. “God bless you and your families. God bless our troops, and God bless America.”

Davis Benedict, president of the N.C. Society of Children of the American Revolution, led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rosewood High School JROTC color guard presented the colors.

DAR members Lisa Buchtmann and Betty Duncan placed the wreath for the chapter while Benedict placed a wreath on behalf of the N.C. Society of Children of the American Revolution.

The welcome was given by Bill Graham, Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition chairman.

Goldsboro Mayor David Ham, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, thanked those in attendance at the annual event. A public event was not held last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

DAR representatives did gather to honor veterans and did lay a wreath, Ham said.

“I am happy that we can gather again,” he said.

Shirley Proctor, executive director of the Miss Goldsboro organization, sang “America the Beautiful” and the national anthem. Sandra Scronce, chapter veterans chairman, gave the invocation and closing prayer.

Following the ceremony, the DAR wreath was placed at the foot of the Doughboy statue in front of the Wayne County Courthouse.