This was a different world eight years ago.
In May 2001, on Memorial Day weekend, Columbia County came together on the future Town Center Park field in Evans for the first Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration. The program, with a boost from then-county commissioner Jim Whitehead - the event's founder - along with then-congressman Charlie Norwood and generous participation from Fort Gordon, was a star-spangled tribute to still-living veterans, coupled with recognition for the heroic departed.
Four months later, the world changed. The worst attacks ever on American soil took place, with some 3,000 people killed in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
In May 2008, the reality of a world at war still confronts our community. We're a military town, after all, and many of our fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers are serving overseas. Some never make it back home whole; others never return at all.
The meaning of Memorial Day for us, then, isn't abstract. It's part of who we are as a patriotic community of military supporters.
This weekend provides a great opportunity to share that support.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, hundreds will gather in front of the Justice Center in Evans for the Eighth Annual Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration. This year's program features a performance by the Augusta Children's Chorale and a full concert by Fort Gordon's U.S. Army Signal Corps Band.
Though much of the celebration has evolved in the past eight years, some things haven't changed: The commanding general of Fort Gordon and the 10th District U.S. congressman will be featured speakers, though the holders of those offices have changed since that first year.
And best of all, the event still ends with the only fireworks display over Evans.
Many things have changed since 2001. Thankfully, our community's unwavering patriotism and support for our military community remain strong.
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