DALTON, Ga. -- Eleven-year-old Nathan Hastey proudly wears the U.S. Army camouflage jacket that his grandfather, retired U.S. Army Col. Sam Whitson, had made especially for him.

He also wears a very serious face.

Veterans Day is a time when "we celebrate the veterans that fought for our country and we support them," Nathan said Wednesday.

With U.S. soldiers fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, veterans and active-duty military were on the minds of many North Georgians on Wednesday. And residents of all ages found different ways to celebrate.

Nathan and other Dug Gap Elementary School students received an American flag that was flown briefly above the U.S. Navy's USS Sterett, an active destroyer.

U.S. Navy Reserve Senior Chief Operations Specialist Roger Henderson, who works at Dalton Utilities, brought the flag home from active duty in the northern Arabian Gulf and presented it to Dug Gap students.

Members of the Georgia Army National Guard taught students how to care for the flag and about the symbolism in its folds -- for instance, that the second fold stands for belief in eternal life and the 10th honors fatherhood.

Sgt. Maj. Joe Shubert joked later that few veterans and military personnel actually take Veterans Day off. But he said it was great to talk to the students and "worth working on Veterans Day."

On the other side of Whitfield County, Tennessee Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Harvey White, of Manchester, Tenn., talked to students at Cohutta Elementary about his pending deployment to Iraq as part of the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment.

"Your thoughts and prayers are always needed for all the soldiers who put themselves in harm's way," he told students.

Sgt. 1st Class White's son, Joshua, is a teacher at the school and organized his father's visit.

"It gives the students a new perspective," Mr. White said. "They don't often meet someone who's been there (to war overseas) or is getting ready to go."

Later in the evening, the Catoosa Citizens and Veterans Memorial committee hosted "A Tribute to America" at Benton Place Campus with music, a candlelight service and presenting of the colors.

Co-chairwoman Susan Tankersley said the annual event recognizes Walker and Catoosa veterans, patriotic residents and serving troops g.

"We owe our thank-yous to them for what they sacrificed for our freedom," she said.


* Walker County's Veteran of the Year, Robert Honeycutt, served in World War II and created the Veterans of All Wars Museum.

* Patriotic Citizen of the Year Bebe Heiskell, Walker County's sole commissioner, serves on many government agencies and community organizations.

* Catoosa County's Veteran of the Year, Keith Greene retired with 25 years' military service and now is chairman of the Catoosa County Commission.

* Patriotic Citizen of the Year Yvonne Tate Morgan, member of Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames and Daughters of the Confederacy, helped start the Catoosa Citizens and Veterans Memorial

Source: Susan Tankersley

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