On a day when hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country are recognized for their service, Gary Pendleton, a retired Army Brigadier General and current member of the N.C. House of Representatives, reminded people to think also about the families.
Pendleton delivered the keynote speech at Garner’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at Aversboro Baptist Church Wednesday.
“I wanted to tell them how important the families are and what they go through when their loved one is gone,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton shared his personal story, being a child of army veteran in the early ‘50s. He said he remembers his father going off to war on three occasions and not returning for at least a year each time.
Pendleton’s mom took care of he and his sister while his father was away.
I saw the hard time my mother had raising those kids and not having much of a support system except the church and her family. This happens to military people all the time.”
Gary Pendleton, member of the N.C. House of Representatives, 49th district
During those times, there weren’t any cell phones, there weren’t any emails and a phone call would have been a month’s worth of income, he said.
So Pendleton and his family would go without speaking to his father until he returned.
“I saw the hard time my mother had raising those kids and not having much of a support system except the church and her family,” he said.
As a result, Pendleton’s mom became an alcoholic. She has since gotten sober but Pendleton said it still lingers in his mind.
“This happens to military people all the time,” Pendleton said. “They go through a lot.”
He encouraged the some 150 people in attendance to love and pray for the families. Pendleton also gave the audience a brief history of the different wars in America’s history since the country began recognizing Veterans Day.
Among those in attendance of the event were members of the Garner town council, Mayor Ronnie Williams, Senators Chad Barefoot and Dan Blue, Congressman David Price, County Commissioners James West and Matt Calabria and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
“Veterans may be your plumber, your mail carrier... or the one who cuts your grass,” Williams, a Vietnam veteran, said. “They did not ask to be recognized today, but we felt it was appropriate to recognize them.”
The Garner Magnet High School symphonic band played a mini-concert for half an hour before the observance started.
The fourth- and fifth-grade classes from Aversboro Road Elementary School sang musical numbers. Dave Kamphius and Dana Stephenson each sang solos, while audience members waved their flags back and forth.