For Charlotte resident Maj. Gen. Todd Kelly, Aversboro Baptist Church holds memories close to his heart. Thirty-three years ago, he married his wife, Renee, in the old sanctuary.
On Tuesday morning, Nov. 11, he will return to the church to thank the veterans of the Garner area during the Town of Garner and Garner Veterans Memorial Committee’s Veterans Day celebration.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., the Garner Magnet High School Symphonic Band will entertain with patriotic music. The ceremony will officially begin at 11 a.m.
The Aversboro Elementary School STEM 4th and 5th grade chorus will perform, directed by Kathy Hopkins. Dana Stephenson Dixon and Dave Kamphuis will contribute as guest soloists.
Kelly, an Air National Guard assistant to the commander-Air Mobility Command, will speak.
He graduated from N.C. State University in 1981, where he met his wife. After they were married and he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant from ROTC, they left for his flight school in Texas.
Since then, Kelly has served in a variety of command positions, including in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“I’ve always wanted to fly,” he said. “That’s what drew me to the military and N.C. State at the time.”
His first assignment was in Fayetteville for eight years of active duty.
During 9/11, he was mobilized while on reserve, excited to finally participate in a mission that he had trained for years to do.
On Tuesday, he plans to thank the veterans in Garner. Now, he said, the military is a volunteer force as the numbers of men and women in uniform continues to shrink.
He cited Ret. Maj. Gen. Charles Scott, who serves as chair for the Veterans Memorial brick committee and has previously served as master of ceremonies for other Veterans Day celebrations, as an example of a veteran he respects.
Kelly said that many people underestimate the importance of the national guard in their state and the honor of that position.
He also emphasized the importance of thanking military family members who have held down the home fort and sacrificed for their family.
“I’m hoping that families will be there,” he said of the ceremony.
“This is an important day for those who have served for two to four years or (for a) career. These individuals are owed our gratitude and thanks,” he said.
Another way Garner-ites can celebrate Veterans Day is to visit the Veterans Memorial on Buffaloe Road. Dozens of engraved memorial bricks have been added to the Walkway of Honor, bringing the total number to 868 bricks.