How many people know that today is an official Federal Holiday honoring our men and women who serve in the Armed Forces.? On August 31, 1949 Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Days. It has been celebrated on the 3rd Saturday of May every year since then.
Retired Army SFC Chris Diaz has taken on the job of giving back and saluting the military after a 20-year career in the Army. He recalls how the community helped him while in the military and now wants to educate others and preserve the patriotism he felt as a soldier, and now as a year-old civilian.
"I don't feel that the young people of the country are being taught to appreciate our country and what we stand for" Diaz told the people gathered under the pavilion on a beautiful, sunny morning.
In order to help rectify this, Diaz held a Salute to the Armed Forces Fun Run/Walk today at Meridian Park in Loganville. It included a back-to-the-basics ciruit training, a 1.2 mile run/walk around the lake and was followed by a ceremony to honor the military. The run was headed by Councilman Rey Martinez carrying a large American flag with 20-25 people two-stepping to the rhythm of Diaz's cadence.
At the ceremony, local civilians gave testimonies about patriotism and/or military experiences and some young recruits got some friendly advice from some old timers.
Joshua Sparks, of Lawrenceville, said he had thought of going to college, then decided to join the Army instead.
"I want my life to mean something" he told the crowd.
Madelynn Nowviskie, 11, from Monroe, when asked what patriotism meant to her, responded with "to love your country, to have respect for it." Her Mom stood by proudly.
Deborah Reeder, however, spoke about the lack of participation in the, indicating the small group of just about 35-40 people in attendance.
"I am embarrassed for the Marines here to see the lack of people show up for this ceremony," she said.
Everyone agreed that the event needs more publicity for next year, and Diaz said he plans on having this ceremony as long as he is able. Next year's event will be the 3rd Saturday in May.