Published Thursday, October 11, 2012
By ALEX MCRAE
The Coweta County Veterans Muster III officially begins today with a performance of “Letters Home,” an award-winning play based on letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East.
This is the third Veterans Muster organized by the Coweta Commission on Veterans Affairs. The group was formed in the spring of 2010 when veteran Malcolm Jackson and Maj. Gen. Joe Brooks (U.S. Army ret.) formed the organization.
“Our mission has come to be summed up in two words — public awareness,” Jackson said. “We want to keep everyone aware of the sacrifices of all our veterans, including their families, who stayed home to take care of business.”
Tonight’s play is hosted by the Patrons of the Centre at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts. The performance begins at 7 p.m.
“Letters Home” is a play presented by the touring company of the Griffin Theatre Company, Chicago. The theater company’s website describes the play this way:
“Although the title of the play implies that all the letters are from soldiers, the piece includes a small number of correspondences from parents – their words, being no less important.
“These letters were written under the most difficult of circumstances; the disorientation of training, deployment, separation from family and loved ones and combat, and occupation duties in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“One theme seems to unite their diverse voices; the belief that the person standing beside you is more important than you are. They also help define for the audience — patriotism and what it means to serve our country today, through acts of bravery, compassion, social responsibility, sense of community and brotherhood.
“Collectively the production gives a voice to a generation that went to war against terror in Afghanistan and to war in Iraq, for reasons that are still being debated and who are still fighting and dying in those wars today. More importantly, the play reveals the humanity that lies within the war as seen through the eyes of the men and women fighting it.”
Muster 2012 activities will continue on Saturday at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Pine Road south of Newnan. At 2 p.m. Saturday, a ceremony will be held to honor the families of six local men who have died on active duty service since 1975.
Those to be honored include Chad Coleman, Michael Stokely, Jeffery Blanton, Joseph Meadows, Adrian Mills and Nicholas Whitlock.
The theme of Muster 2012 is “Military Operations — Post Vietnam.” The muster honors all veterans, but will focus on those who served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and many other significant post-Vietnam conflicts, including operations in Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia.
Next year’s Muster will focus on Korean War veterans.
Admission for tonight’s play is $10 general admission, and $8 for senior adults.
Saturday’s schedule includes:
Oct. 13, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Muster III activities at the Coweta County Fairgrounds.
Opening ceremony is 10 a.m. on the midway field and includes a parachute demonstration featuring combat veterans with the ceremonial flag, a flag presentation by Northgate Air Force JROTC and opening ceremony conducted by the American Legion and including students of the JROTC.
Starting at 10:30 a.m. there will be displays on the fairgrounds plaza and midway areas as part of the Student-Vet Connect program organized and presented by the Newnan High School History Department. The event will include displays of military memorabilia presented by area veterans who served from World War II until the present.
Drill Team demonstrations by students of the Newnan High Air Force JROTC and East Coweta Marine Corps JROTC will be presented 10:30 a.m. and noon.
Representatives of military service organizations will be on hand and military-related books by local authors will be for sale.
Static displays include UH-60 Blackhawk and Cobra helicopters. Military vehicles from all time periods will also be on display.
Helicopter rides will be available starting at 11 a.m. and lasting into the afternoon, based upon ride demand. The UH-1 Huey rides are $50 per individual, and $45 for veterans; and AH-1 Cobra rides are $450 per individual, and $425 for veterans.
No rides will be offered during the times of ceremonies.
From 2-2:30 p.m. is the Service of Remembrance ceremony honoring those from Coweta County killed in action, immediately followed by a closing ceremony conducted by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars organization.
At 2:30 p.m. the helicopter rides will resume.