Organizers sat around the conference table in the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency Office and briskly discussed ways to make this year's Red, White and Blue Veterans' Celebration bigger and better than ever.
"We start meeting each year starting in February, and it seems like it might be a little overwhelming, but things just always fall into place," Veterans' Celebration Planning Committee Chairman Jim Whitehead said after the meeting.
Held this year on May 29, which is the Saturday before Memorial Day, at the Doctors Hospital field behind the Kroger in Evans, the fifth annual event features fireworks, a parade, flag retirement ceremony, patriotic singing, remarks from government and military officials, crafts and children's games.
Military highlights of the event include the awarding of a Bronze Start to Assistant District Attorney Bobby Christine, who recently served as a captain in the Army National Guard in Iraq; a tribute to Sgt. Thomas Thigpen, who died while serving in the Middle East; the official renaming of a portion of Columbia Road to the Purple Heart Highway and a recreation of the Bataan Death March.
In April of 1942, between 600 to 700 American soldiers on the Bataan Peninsula died when the Japanese military conducted them through a 90-mile forced march. Along with 5,000 to 10,000 Filipino allies, the soldiers suffered malaria, dysentery, starvation, heat exhaustion and beheadings.
"There are some things we do that I don't think can be improved upon," Whitehead said. "But then we add items like the Bataan Death March and recognize individuals like Capt. Christine and Sgt. Thigpen that makes it better than it was before.
"The whole event is to recognize men that have fought and died for their country. We want them to know how much we appreciate their sacrifice."
Admission to the Red, White and Blue Veterans' Celebration is free. The event will be held from 6-9 p.m.
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