By Abby Gibbs
The City of Mauldin honored the Veterans who served our Country in a special ceremony on Saturday, November 11, 2017. The ceremony was held at the Veterans Memorial Wall under a huge white tent where seating was available for the Veterans, their families, and guests.
One of the questions most asked about the date time of this Ceremony is why on November 11 at 11 am? Veterans Day began as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of World War I. 11 am is the time the arms were laid down. An Act approved on May 13, 1938, made November 11 a legal federal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace and hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. A change was made in 1968 to the fourth Monday in October and went into effect in 1971. But in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
Mauldin began the ceremony in an official capacity of recognition after the construction of the Veterans Memorial Wall, War Monuments and walkways that were completed approximately 10 years ago. The tradition continues each year on November 11 at 11 am at the Veterans Memorial Wall.
The ceremony included a welcome to the veterans with guests Taft Matney of Mauldin City Council and additional comments and appreciation by Mayor Dennis Raines, a Veteran of the Army National Guard.
Patriotic musical selections were sung by the Ralph Chandler Panthers Choir, directed by Holly Traynham-Hill. Mrs. Hill is the new Choral Director for Ralph Chandler and proudly brought the students to share music and the sense of patriotism they have been experiencing as they rehearsed in the spirit of the music as they sang. What a refreshing group of Middle School Students experiencing and understanding of sharing appreciation in the song, “Thank You, Soldier”, and “My America” and leading the guests in singing the “National Anthem”.
The Honor Guard from the Naval Operations Support Center of Donaldson Center in Greenville presented and recessed the colors. They are coordinated by EN2 Christina Potter.
A presentation of the personal life of a Veteran with PTSD was shared by Staff Sgt. Jeff Fulton of Simpsonville. Jeff served 12 years in the Army Reserves, from 2003 until January 2015. He began in Charlie Company in the 391 Engineer Battalion out of Spartanburg, SC. He was involved in route clearance operations. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as a Combat Engineer. During his first deployment of 2005-2006, he was primarily involved in manual mine clearing while working with military mine dogs. His second tour lasted from 2010-2011 as Route Clearance Package 15. During his tour, they were making the routes safer from base to base by finding and neutralizing Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s).
Jeff shared several concepts from his military experiences that enhanced his leadership and life lessons both in the military and also, in the corporate world since his discharge. The most important was his gratitude for freedom and opportunities he has been given. He reminded everyone that our freedoms should never be taken for granted. His leadership development on the front lines as a Combat Engineer was life-changing during his time in the military. He had to make life-altering decisions that could have negatively affected his soldiers. He trusted in his decision-making and training to have the cooperation of his soldiers. He values the impact he was able to have on the 15 soldiers under his command with zero casualties.
After a diagnosis of PTSD Jeff returned home and began receiving counseling and guidance. Jeff is now able to be available to help his soldiers and many others who live with PTSD. He is there to listen, encourage, and refer other Veterans to the Veterans Affairs Clinics. Jeff shared his assistance with other soldiers in his company that he is able to deal with his own PTSD and helps provide ways to cope with daily life.
Jeff is married to Gina Elise Fulton and has a son, Jacob Robert Fulton born this year. He is employed with Windstream Communications as Manager of Project Coordination. He gives credit to his military training and leadership and his faith in God bringing him through these years to be in the position to help so many others today.
The Veterans were delighted to hear another presentation by Michael Cogdill, TV News Anchor with WYFF-TV. Michael is not a stranger to the Veterans Day Ceremony. He has spoken often during the past 10 years.
The visual image of the American Flag and the flags of the Military Branches of Service brought a sense of pride as the audience stood in respect and watched the Veterans present follow behind the Color Guard to take their places at the monument for the war in which they served. Tears were shed, and words of appreciation from the audience were shared with each Veteran as they stood at their monument of service.
A short summary of what being a Veteran means:
What is a Veteran?
A Veteran is someone who
At some point in their life
Made a check payable to
The United States of America
For an amount of up to and including their life!