James B. Gould is the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee fo rthe Richmond County NAACP. He pauses for a moment to bow his head in silence before he places the wreath beneath the flagpole outside Dobbins Heights' Town Hall.
Photo by Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal
DOBBINS HEIGHTS —The Rev. Thurman R. Davis, of Dobbins Heights, knows the cost of war and the honor that comes from answering the call of his country.
He was joined the Army in April of 1967 during the time when America was involved in the Vietnam War. He knew the draft was coming.
“I didn’t really want to be in the military,” Davis said. “I was 117 pounds at the time. I figured I was too little and they wouldn’t want me, so I went to have my physical examination to just get it out of the way so I could move on with my life. The next thing I knew I was on my way to Fort Diggs.”
Davis fought in the war and returned home, but he was not the same man.
“My contention is that no one goes to war and comes back the same,” Davis said. “That’s the price of war. Knowing that personally, I commend and thank all for their service.”
Davis came from a time where he was the bad guy. The people, at the time, did not honor veterans for their efforts in Vietnam. Instead they were shunned due to the unpopularity of the war.
“It is a bit different now,” Davis said. “Now I wear this cap that says I was part of Vietnam, and I get people coming up to me all the time just to thank me. People of all colors and background just want to tell me thank you and welcome home.”
The people of Dobbins Heights gathered together on Monday morning to pay tribute to the veterans that have served and continue to serve their country. Davis was the guest speaker at the service.
Antonio Blue, mayor of Dobbins Heights, welcomed the crowd of 25 to the Veterans Day service. The national anthem was sang and the pledge of allegiance was said as the people stood on their feet to honor America and those in military service.
Gwyndoly Wilkins, a master sergeant in the Army, stood still and saluted the flag during this time along with a number of other veterans present.
Wilkins, a native of Dobbins Heights, was part of the laying of the wreaths ceremony at the event. She has served active duty in the Army for 26 years and counting.
“It is good to be home for this,” Wilkins said. “My brother is also in the military, so it is nice to see a ceremony like this.”
Family members who lost loved ones in the Vietnam War were presented with certificates as part of a new tradition to the service.
While a couple of names were called out, Sadie Crawford, of Hamlet, was present during the ceremony. She received a certificate for her husband, Rembert Crawford, who died during the war. His son, Derek Crawford, was also present and received a certificate as well.
“It’s just a reminder that freedom is not free,” said Davis after the certificates were presented.