American Legion Post 201 honored the nation’s veterans and Purple Heart recipients during its 69th Annual Old Soldiers Day Memorial Service on Aug. 7.

Old Soldiers Day was made official in Alpharetta in 1952 and has since served as a day to celebrate and remember veterans of all wars.

Beginning at 11 a.m., the program saw around 300 attendees and numerous vendors. The Varsity served up its famous hot dogs and was one of the main event sponsors.

American Legion was joined by members Johns Creek Veterans Association Honor Guard, Veterans of Foreign War Post 12002 and the Greater Atlanta Buffalo Soldiers. Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame inductee and north Fulton veteran Roger Wise Jr. and Rep. Mary Robichaux introduced the programs guest speakers — Georgia Senator Ed Harbison and Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame director Col. Rick White.

“When you see a first responder, walk up to them and say thank you for your service to our community,” Wise said. “Freedom is not free. Safety is not free. These individuals have paid their towns, so we can be free and safe.”

Harbison, who represents the 15th District, spoke on the legacies and importance of Black military regiments and all veterans. Harbison himself served four years in the Marines and is a recipient of the Purple Heart.

“We’re here today because of the life and legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, the members of the 9th and 10th cavalries and the 24th and 25th Infantry — all Black military regiments to embody the very meaning of selfless service,” Harbison said. “These men are victims of the toxicity of racial discrimination displayed...during that time, and what it means to fight.”

This year’s celebration also took place on Purple Heart Day, which honors all veterans who have been injured in service.

“Today is a day to recognize those who’ve come before us, and those who have fallen, individuals have made the ultimate sacrifices, and I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who have lead a hand in crafting a community, an environment that is able to celebrate the works of veterans and continued support of one,” Harbison said.

Following Harbison, White spoke to the crowd, urging all the veterans present to think back to the day they enlisted.

“When you raise your right hand on that day and that age — you can remember it’s always imprinted in your mind — you’re in fact saying, ‘Here am I, send me,’” White said. “Furthermore, there’s a verse in the New Testament, that kind of takes takes what you’re willing to do when you raise your right hand — Matthew 15:13, and you all know it. ‘Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for a friend’ and who are your friends?”

“Your fellow military men left and right, this country, everyone in this country, and even other citizens of other countries that desire the blessing of freedom that America enjoys every day,” White said.

Old Soldiers Day typically includes a parade through downtown Alpharetta, but there was no parade this year due to COVID-19 concerns. The American Legion is working to get the parade planned for next year on the 70th anniversary of Old Soldiers Day.

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