The Blowing Rock American Legion Building was the site of commemoration of those who served our country—and celebrated the 75th anniversary of the recently renovated building itself. The annual Veteran’s Day celebration took place on Saturday, November 13th with the crowd gathered welcomed by Post 256 Commander Albert Yount and Mayor Charlie Sellers.
ASU trumpet major Kendall Davis led the gathering in their singing of the Star Spangled Banner, then all participated in singing a medley of armed forces service songs, led by Post Adjutant Jim West. Blowing Rock Town Manager Shane Fox recounted the history of the facility as part of the 75th anniversary commemoration, with personal insight provided by Shirley Snyder who recounted many personal memories of the building as it served as the gathering spot for weekly dances and other community events. She thanked the Town Council for helping to insure the building would continue to be an asset to the Blowing Rock community with the renovations that restored its function.
George Wilcox then introduced the speaker for the event, US Army Major General (Retired) Charles Swannack, Jr., who provided his insight into recent undertakings of American Armed Services.
General Swannack was genuinely moved by the standing ovation and the presence of the large gathering, saying, “Today—this is awesome today—I mean to see y’all coming out and supporting our veterans the way you do—and over time—here at this beautiful facility, is just so uplifting to a veteran of 34 years of service.” He said he has seen an uplifting of our American symbol, the Stars and Stripes flag, and how grateful he is to see that.
General Swannack talked about efforts he is involved with that are looking to help veterans with homelessness, a high suicide rate, and high divorce rates, working with Charlotte area entities such as Speedway Motor Sports, an entity he has ties to in his hometown. One program General Swannack is involved in with backing of area businesses is “Welcome Home Patriots,” giving returning soldiers a positive direction as they return to civilian life.
In recent events, General Swannack’s familiarity with the situation facing US troops in the evacuation of Afghanistan brought out emotions for the loss of American forces there as well as his questions about why other evacuation facilities that might have been safer for troops and evacuees were ignored. Suicide bombers killed both US forces and civilians in the waning days of the evacuation at the airport used by civilians and US forces. General Swannack was visibly moved toward the conclusion of his presentation by the losses there as he recounted the terrorist action that claimed lives.
The program concluded with TAPS, performed by Kendall Davis before the standing audience.
Photos by Lonnie Webster