By Josh Akeman
The Coweta County Commission on Veterans' Affairs will host its third Veterans' Muster this weekend, Oct. 11 - 13, to honor all veterans that have served post Vietnam.
Malcolm Jackson addressed the Coweta County Board of Commissioners at its most recent meeting to talk about the successes of the previous two Musters, as well as what's planned for this year's Muster III.
"It's been my honor to represent this commission on our Muster in the past, and believe it or not here we are on number three already. We have one goal in mind and that is to recognize veterans that have served and given their lives and those families that have stayed at home to take care of stuff on the home front."
Each Muster has focused on a different group of veterans, with this year's focusing on veterans serving since Vietnam.
"We started off with Muster I two years ago with a one day event where we honored World War II veterans. Last year we brought the traveling (Vietnam memorial) wall to Newnan and that turned into a week long event that we were quite proud of. We think we got about 7,000 people visiting for that muster, including 1,000 students."
The half-scale model of the Vietnam memorial, called "The Wall that Heals," was conceived by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and toured to over twenty cities around the nation last year, including Newnan.
"Muster III, this year, is dedicated to honoring and remembering veterans and their families that served post vietnam, also referred to as the war on terrorism (1975-present). Lots of conflicts have occurred. When we started to research we printed 15 pages of single space items that our country has been involved in around the world."
The planned activities will kick off Thursday night, Oct. 11, with a stage production of "Letters Home," hosted by patrons of the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts of Coweta County, located at 1523 Lower Fayetteville Road in Newnan. "Letters Home," is a play from the Griffin Theatre company, a touring group out of Chicago, that brings to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The show starts at 7 p.m., and admission is $10 and $8 for seniors.
Griffin Theatre provides this overview for "Letters Home."
"Letters Home puts the current wars in Afghanistan & Iraq front and center by bringing to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. The production is inspired by the New York Times Op-Ed Article “The Things They Wrote” and the subsequent HBO documentary Last Letters Home, and additionally uses letters and correspondences from Frank Schaeffer’s books, Voices From the Front, Letters Home From America’s Military Family, Faith of Our Sons, and Keeping Faith. The play without politicizing gives audiences a powerful portrait of the soldier experience in the ongoing war. The initial production was critically acclaimed and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for 'Outstanding New Play.'"
The Muster activities will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Coweta County Fair grounds with an opening ceremony that will include a parachute demonstration featuring combat veterans, a Junior ROTC flag presentation, and an opening ceremony conducted by the American Legion and JROTC students.
At 10:30 a.m., you can view displays of memorabilia by veterans from World War II to present, sponsored by the Newnan High school history department. There will also be representatives from various military organizations, authors selling military related books, and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter on display.
Starting at 11 a.m., you can take a tour of Coweta from the sky onboard a UH-1 Huey or AH-1 Cobra helicopter. Huey rides are $50 or $45 for veterans, while Cobra rides are $450, or $425 for veterans.
At 2:00 p.m., there will be a Service of Remembrance for Coweta County KIAs, followed by a closing ceremony.
Jackson told the Board of Commissioners that there are six Cowetans listed as KIA over the post-Vietnam time frame.