ROCKINGHAM — Though the air was chilled and windy, a number of veterans and their families joined Richmond County Hospice to celebrates its 3rd annual “Salute to Veterans” event.
The crowd gathered was graced with the lovely music of the 82nd Airborne Division All American Brass Quintet. The team of five played a variety of classic songs as well as adding in a bit of a modern touch with The Beatles’ hit song “Yesterday.”
At the end of their string of songs, the quintet began to play the songs for each branch in the military. One by one veterans stood up as their division’s song was played. Remembering their time in service. It was a touching moment for the crowd as some struggled to push themselves to their feet — needing the help of family members to stand.
Deon Cranford, of Hamlet, stood in the background with is 2-year-old daughter, Aubrey, as he watched the event take place.
“It really is moving,” Cranford said. “I came to this last year. The weather was a bit better, but the crowd this year has grown a lot from last year.”
Cranford came to support his family. His grandfather is a Navy veteran and his father-in-law is an Air Force veteran.
As Cranford watched on, his daughter was a bit preoccupied with many other things surrounding her. Tree leaves were definitely the most interesting thing she had seen until she spotted a dog. A canine demonstration was presented before the crowd, catching the eyes of the children that wandered around.
Bassy, the Dutch shepherd from Europe, came out with trainer Fred Fusco, of Southern Pines, to show how he helped catch the bad guys for the military.
Matt Gordon, of Boone, dressed in 27 pounds of padding as he paraded around in a “suspicious” manner before taking off in a run in front of Bassy. The trained dog wasted no time as he tackled Gordon and locked his jaws around his arm. He only let go after Fusco told him to stop — yelling out the commands in Dutch. Bassy quickly let go, but he didn’t lose his guard stance with Gordon around.
After the demonstration, people were able to come up to meet and pet Bassy. Some were standoffish at first, but it was quickly apparent that Bassy was about as friendly as he could be. He even greeted Gordon with love after he removed his padding.
“I’m not the terrorist anymore,” Gordon said, laughing.
The most anticipated event for the day was the All Veteran Parachute Team. As the plane flew over head, two gentlemen jumped out and landed perfectly in the grassy fields at Richmond County Hospice. Everyone looked on in awe as they danced across the sky.
Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. closed out the event with a prayer as he said how important it was to continue to remember the sacrifices these men and women made beyond Veterans Day.