GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Sounds of honor and admiration echoed throughout Fluor Field as residents of the Upstate paid tribute to their hometown veterans.
“It’s just good to be here,” said Raymond Dawkins, a veteran.
Raymond Dawkins is a 96-year-old World War II veteran. He was granted France’s highest order of merit, a Chevalier Knight in the Legion of Honor. While surrounded by other former servicemen and women, Dawkins reflected on his own experiences.
“When you turned 18 you were going,” said Dawkins. “And one thing about World War II, and the country was together then, I don’t care what your station in life was, you went.”
Many others were also celebrated, including families of active-duty servicemen and women.
“It makes me very honored to come here today to support our veterans knowing that they have went through what my son is currently going through,” said Wendy Smith, president of Upstate Greenville Blue Star Mothers.
The strength of Blue Star Mothers is something Smith said she feels every day.
“I use the Blue Star Mothers as a support system and so having other women that are going through the same thing I am is important to me and helps me get through these times.”
It’s the kind of support that the co-founder of the Upstate Veterans Alliance Sheldon Landgrave said is permanent.
“These are my brothers and sisters that I took an oath to defend, and they depended on me, and I depended on them while I was in the military,” said Landgrave, a veteran and the communication and marketing director for Upstate Veterans Alliance. “They’re not my siblings but they’re my lifetime brothers and sisters.”
And today a new generation of these brothers and sisters joined the family.
A table was set up to symbolize guests of honor who could not be there, guests who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Veterans said these heroes fuel them to continue this event.
“I will never ever stop doing this event because I will never leave anybody behind…that’s part of the oath that I took many, many years ago when I first enlisted,” said Landgrave.
This was the seventh year the Upstate Veterans Alliance has done this event and they said they begin planning four months beforehand.