Garland’s Veterans Day Celebration

On November 11, 2020, folks gathered at the Veterans Tribute Garden to celebrate members of the United States Armed Forces. Beautiful floral arrangements created by the Rowlett Florist, Shirley Tullos, decorated the grounds. It was sunny and unseasonably warm, a perfect day for an outdoor celebration. The event was hosted by Friends of the Veterans Tribute Garden, and organized by Lori Dodson, Nancy Ghirla and Jason Collard.

In this ninth month of a pandemic, things were a bit different than they would have been under normal circumstances. The event was not announced or promoted due to current restrictions on large gatherings. There were more participants in the program than there were audience members, and most were wearing masks. In spite of those “oddities”, all who attended, whether audience or participants, had a very special thirty minute experience.

Being situated behind the Senior Activity Center in the 500 block of Avenue A, the garden is bordered by Avenue B. Patriotic music provided by Rick Richards had to compete with the traffic sounds, which were hard to overcome at times. Speakers also had a difficult time being heard, considering traffic noise and their wearing of masks. Mayor Scott LeMay welcomed guests and presented an enormous, gorgeous wreath at the wall bearing plaques with names of Garland residents who lost their lives during WWI, WWII and the Korean War. Councilwoman for District 2, Deborah Morris, placed a wreath at the Vietnam memorial at the opposite end of the garden. A young lady with a bugle, Leah Dugger, a junior at Garland High School, played taps followed by a moment of silence. 

Rick Richards turned up the amps and the gathering was enveloped by music representing the five different branches of the U.S. military branches. Two old soldiers, John Hoffman, US Army and Larry Coleman, US Army, rose to their feet when the Army’s anthem was played. That was certainly a very poignant moment in the program, which lasted only a half hour, but was filled with expressions of gratitude for our armed forces. Rick dedicated his last song, “God Bless the USA”, to Jessica Acosta, a very special guest. Members of the Lakeview Centennial High School ROTC*, a program new to that school, stood by as honor guard. We were told they would have been in uniform, but the school cannot afford to provide them.

Two very handsomely uniformed Cub Scouts were in attendance, accompanied by pack leader, Michelle Stuyvesant, who announced that her pack will be helping to pick up debris in the garden once a month. The program ended with a “Thank you for your service” and benediction by Deborah Morris. Thank you to all who helped make this a very special experience.

*Lakeview Centennial High School does not have an ROTC at this time. The participants in our ceremony were a group of students who are members of an after school group being trained by military veterans.

Nancy Ghirla

Photos by: Marylyn Mullins

Larry Coleman, US Army
John Hoffman, US Army
Freedom is not free stone
ROTC members with Councilwoman Deborah Morris and Mayor Scott Le May next to wreath
Councilwoman Deborah Morris and Mayor Scott Le May
Lakeview Centennial’s ROTC
wreath by Rowlett Florist Shirley Tullos