908 AW celebrates veterans, community with Pike Road

  • Published
  • By Maj. John T. Stamm
  • 908th Airlift Wing

A more perfect day could not have been asked for - rays of sunshine shattered the partly cloudy sky, and a slight breeze cooled an otherwise unseasonably warm afternoon at Veterans Park in Pike Road, Alabama, on Sunday, Nov. 6.

The pride and patriotism of the audience was palpable as Troy University Army ROTC cadets presented the colors, the Pike Road Intermediate School Student Government Association led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Pike Road High School Show Choir rendered a performance of the national anthem that moved some in attendance to tears.

The Pike Road Veterans Day ceremony was the 11th annual in the town’s 25 short years of incorporation. For Mrs. Charlene Rabren, retired city clerk, 4th generation area resident, and wife of Pike Road’s fist mayor, Mr. Wayne Rabren, the ceremony has special meaning for her.

“My husband is a veteran, and Pike Road overall loves our military and our veterans,” she said. “If I could say anything to any veteran past, present, or future, I’d say thank-you.  I appreciate you. You are very special to us, and we are deeply grateful for your service.”

Col. Craig W. Drescher, 908th Airlift Wing commander, was honored as the guest speaker at the event. He began his comments by thanking the community for their support and applauding current mayor Gordon Stone on his enthusiasm and advocacy for the growing town. Drescher also acknowledged the students who led the Pledge and sang the anthem, and complimented the Capitol Sounds orchestra, claiming they were among the best he’d ever heard.

Drescher then explained the differences between Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day, and that, to him, the differences were slim.

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to separate the three events because the current and former military members could easily have ended up as someone we remember on Memorial Day; someone who lost their life serving all of us and what our great country stands for,” he said. “For many of us, a few precious moments, or a few feet, or a different day could have meant the difference.”

Drescher emphasized the bond between the residents of central Alabama and the Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 908th.

“I am honored to be with you here today celebrating all of our veterans; some scattered across the world and many of our neighbors here with us today,” he said.  “Thank you for your continued support.”

Mayor Stone spoke next and dedicated “Special Recognition Bricks,” engraved with the names of individuals and local veterans in honor of their service to the community.  He then called for a moment of silence as an Auburn University Montgomery ROTC cadet laid a wreath on the Veterans Memorial while a member of the orchestra played taps on a bugle.

The ceremony concluded with a benediction from Chaplain Dwayne Hughes, retired US Army, and the announcement of the winner of a patriotic quilt provided by the Pike Road Quilters.

Mrs. Rabren, who spearheaded the movement to start the tradition 11 years ago, articulated the importance of the day.

“We have always been a patriotic community, and in the early stages of our town that just seemed like something we ought to recognize and take time to celebrate.”