By Jesse Wood
May 26, 2014. Sonny Sweet, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army, was honored with numerous awards for his service to this country and for his volunteer efforts in the High Country, at the eighth annual Memorial Day programming, sponsored by the High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America, at the Boone Mall.
As retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. And President of the HCC MOAA George Brudzinski said at the ceremony, the tradition of Memorial Day is to honor those who sacrificed their lives in uniform, those who have served and those who currently serve in the armed forces – “all for the freedoms we have today.”
Members of the Watauga High School JROTC were on hand for the posting of the colors, and the Watauga Community Band played several songs to the delight of the audience. Also, Generation Excellent, a drama and song outfit from Ashe County, was dressed in clothing from colonial times and spoke and sung about freedom and liberty.
But, the heart of the programming was the recognition of Sweet.
Before presenting Sweet with the Zeller Award medallion, Susan Jones of the Kiwanis Club mentioned that organization has “such a benefit” with the membership of veterans.
Jim Street of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the American Red Cross honored Sweet for his community service with a medal and encouraged others to become sustaining volunteers with a nonprofit and not just someone who comes out and works one Saturday out of the year. When speaking of Sweet, Street said that some of Sweet’s mottos are “if something needs to be done, let’s get it done” and “help can’t wait.”
Scott Nelson, ride director with the Blood, Sweat and Gears, a bicycle event in the High Country that benefits nonprofits, announced the creation of the Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant in the amount of $20,000 to $30,000 that will benefit underprivileged kids.
Dan Meyer, president of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, presented Sweet with the 2014 Ben Suttle Award for Community Service and Volunteerism.
Mayor Andy Ball presented Brudzinski with a letter of recognition from the Town of Boone recognizing the HCC MOAA. In thanking Sweet for his community service to the Town of Boone, he mentioned that while some think of Memorial Day as a three-day weekend away from work, barbecue and the beginning of summer, the day holds a much greater significance.
Brudzinski mentioned that the annual Memorial Day programming was a bit different this year with the honoring of Sweet, who has Stage IV lung cancer. After the numerous presentations awarding Sweet, Brudzinski called Sweet up to the podium.
Sweet said he was “overwhelmed” and very appreciative of the recognition.
“May we never forget Memorial Day,” Sweet said.
Below are images from the event at the Boone Mall. Check back for video of event.