By Portia S. Scott (www.atlantadailyworld.com)
The annual salute to Veterans Day celebration on Friday, Nov. 11, at Lincoln Cemetery, featured keynote speaker Dr. Tinice Zellars-Lynch, veterans advocate life coach of the Veterans Health Administration in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN7) in Atlanta. A strong advocate for the veterans, Lynch reinforced how thousands of deplored military men and women “need our help now.”
Currently working on behalf of the veterans, Lynch was forceful, dynamic and promised to serve one veteran at a time. “We haven’t forgotten you,” she said, showing her passion for serving the veterans and advocating a number of programs to help them. She pushes enrollment for benefits and offers leadership for those veterans who are homeless, incarcerated and in need of college training. She also advocated for those veterans who answered “the final call” and those in hospitals.
“Rise up for the families who serve veterans,” she said. “We will not let you down.” Lynch was adamant about being colorblind and challenged her attentive audience to work together to make it happen for veterans and their families.
The speaker acknowledged the moderator, Morocco Coleman, Chair of the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs of the Atlanta NAACP, stating that he was the grandchild of the original chauffeur who drove ‘Mrs. Daisy.’ She was introduced by VA liaison for Disabled Veterans Benefits, Ms. Geraldine Champion, retired from the US Army 273rd Military Intelligence E-7 that served in Vietnam. Champion praised the speaker for her commitment to veterans and to U.S. Pres. Barack Obama for bringing some 40,000 troops home from Iraq at the end of the year.
Other speakers included representatives from Lincoln Cemetery, including CEO of the Lincoln Family Group, Mrs. Joan H. Sawyer, and her son, Jack Frost II, president of Sales & Management, Inc., the Lincoln Family Group. Greetings were brought by formr Tuskegee Airman, Deacon Donald Summerlin, who remembered the veterans ‘missing in action’; Joel Willis, who served some 24 years in the military and who stressed that “freedom is not free.” He experienced combat and served under General Colin Powell. Willis also praised the speaker for being a true advocate for veterans and one “who fights for veterans everyday.”
Other participants and recognition went to the Knights of Peter Claver; World War II Veterans; Legionnaires Commanders; the Rev. Emile Ennis, senior pastor of King Memorial UMC; Buffalo Soldier Gen. Edward William of the 92nd Infantry during World War II; Navigator Tommy Mason of the Knights of Peter Claver, Atlanta Chapter; the Rev. Scottie Swinney, senior pastor of Allen Temple AME Church, who gave the invocation and benediction; and the ROTC Instructor at Benjamin E. Mays High School, who brought his cadets to Present the Colors and retire the Memorial Wreath to the Gardens at the end of the ceremony.
Special remarks came from Rev. A. Florence Weaver Pitts, founder and coordinator of the Veterans Day Commemorative Program at Lincoln Cemetery, who was pleased with its 19 years of success. Rev. Pitts, who is counselor at Lincoln and associate minister at Greater Turner Chapel AME Church, thanked all the participants and supporters who helped make the program successful.
The packed veterans program was held on the Eleventh day, the Eleventh month and the Eleventh hour. An American flag was presented to each family as a special tribute to be placed on the grave sites of deceased veterans. Lincoln Cemetery is located at 2275 Joseph Boone Boulevard in northwest Atlanta.
Programs honoring veterans were held throughout the city, including at Veterans Day Parade down Peachtree in downtown Atlanta.