Independence County Fair honors veterans with special ceremony

Independence County Fair honors veterans with special ceremony

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Independence County honored its veterans Saturday at the fair's sixth-annual Veteran's and Military Appreciation Service.

Veterans said it was a day of many reminders.

"It's very important to teach people who are not veterans to honor and see what some of the veterans go through because some people have no idea," Cave City veteran Van Johns said.

More than 100 pictures of fallen soldiers at the Independence County Fairgrounds reminded onlookers of the sacrifices made to protect the nation's freedom.

"It's a little heart-wrenching to think of friends and relatives I've lost that have been in the service," Batesville veteran Jim Wallace said.

"It's always an emotional thing," Johns said. "There's things in your life that you have to pick up and go on, but you never forget."

John and Wallace's faces are reminders of a country that did forget.

"It's a lot different than it used to be," Wallace said.

"When I came home in 1968, it wasn't that way," Johns said.

Both Wallace and Johns served in the Vietnam War, a time when they say many soldiers did not receive a hero's welcome. Now decades later, they said veterans receive the recognition they deserve.

"I really appreciate the way they appreciate veterans now," Wallace said.

"It's different now and I just praise God that it is," Johns said.

The community gifted every veteran from any war and any military branch with a medal to thank them for their service, an honor Wallace and Johns said they are not used to receiving.

"I didn't get many, but didn't want any either so I'm just glad I came out unscathed and appreciate those who gave more than I did," Wallace said.

"I certainly appreciate them doing this for us," Johns said. "This medal that they give us and honoring us for coming home."

The ceremony reminded Wallace and Johns of why they left home to serve.

"Made me feel good about our country again," Wallace said.

"In my heart, I feel honored to serve my country and my God," Johns said.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.