Area Veterans Day events to begin Saturday
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Nov 06, 2013 | 3011 views |  0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this 2012 file photo, attendees at a Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Memorial Park leave flowers in honor of fallen troops, as an honor guard looks on. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
In this 2012 file photo, attendees at a Veterans Day ceremony at Centennial Memorial Park leave flowers in honor of fallen troops, as an honor guard looks on. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
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Veterans Day is Monday, and several local events celebrating the federal holiday will take place over the weekend.

Starting Saturday, sporting events, special ceremonies and parades commemorating the holiday in honor of those who’ve served in the military are scheduled throughout Calhoun County.

Saturday

The fourth annual Capt. Kyle Comfort Memorial 5k run/walk will start at 8 a.m. at the McClellan Park Medical Mall. An Army Ranger from Saks, Comfort was killed during a 2010 tour in Afghanistan.

Joel Denney, race director, said about 350 runners were registered Wednesday. Organizers expect to match or exceed last year’s tally of 435 participants, Denney said.

Profits from the race will go to the Capt. Kyle Comfort Memorial Foundation.

“The foundation contributed over $20,000 to local service members, their families and service member-related charities locally and nationwide last year,” Denney said.

Several special guests will attend the race this year, Denney said, including Comfort’s widow, Brooke Comfort.

Ben Tomlinson, a Marine from Jacksonville who was shot while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, will signal the start of the race. Tomlinson, paralyzed from the neck down, was himself one of the foundation’s grant recipients in 2011.

Also in attendance will be Bryan Hoddle, head coach of the 2004 U.S. Paralympic track and field team. Hoddle currently works with injured soldiers across the country and at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham.

The Blue Star Salute Foundation of Alabama will display a board at the race filled with the names and photos of service members who have died during combat since 2001. Denney said, just as was done at last year’s race, one of those names will be printed on each of the participants race bibs.

Runners can pick up race packets beginning Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce building, and between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday at the Medical Mall.

Packets also can be picked up beginning at 6:45 a.m. Saturday prior to the race. Registrations ends at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Visit the foundation’s website at www.kylecomfortfoundation.org for more information.

Antioch Baptist Church will hold a Veterans Day ceremony at the Bynum church at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Randy Pope, the church’s youth director, said the idea for the ceremony, now in its second year, came after visiting the church’s cemetery.

“I walked the cemetery over from end to end. There are 47 veterans there,” Pope said.

Special speakers will be church member and veteran Jerry Wade and his wife Cindy. The event will include a reading of the names of the veterans buried at the church, and church youth will place a flag at each grave at the ceremony’s closing.

Monday

A Veterans Day ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. in Centennial Memorial Park at 17th Street and Quintard Avenue in Anniston. The event will include a fallen comrades ceremony and rifle volley by the Marine Corps League, said the ceremony’s coordinator, Ken Rollins.

More than 350 attended last year’s ceremony, Rollins said. The event is sponsored by the Calhoun County Commission and the city of Anniston.

“You don’t have to have worn a uniform to be a patriot,” Rollins said. He encouraged the public to attend the event in honor of veterans.

The annual Veterans Day parade in Anniston will began at 2 p.m. at 16th and Noble streets, ending at ninth Street.

Among the dozens of parade entries this year are the Anniston High School Marching Band, the Jacksonville, Anniston and Oxford fire departments and the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard.

Two local U.S. Army veterans will be featured as co-grand marshals. Talladega County resident Kelvin Cunningham served during the Korean War, and Wilburn Smallwood of Cleburne County served during World War II. Both men received Purple Hearts for injuries they received during combat.

Also on Monday, Golden Corral in Oxford will host a free dinner for all veterans between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Donations will be accepted to support local Disabled American Veterans chapters.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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