Veterans are individuals who deserve to be honored at all times, not just on national holidays.
There is a place that honors these men and women on an ongoing basis. The Veterans Memorial inside NHC Place in Anniston is that site. It features photos and artifacts belonging to families of those in the armed services. Many of the people involved are, or were, residents at NHC Place, an assisted living and retirement facility.
Martin Vaughn, a commander in the Army, is pictured with Gen. George S. Patton. Hank Alexander, an Air Force bomber pilot during World War II, stands before his plane with his crew on an island on the South Pacific.
In the next room, photos show brothers of the Laney family — Doug, Forney, Grady and Thomas — who all served in World War II.
World War I is represented in the photo of Herbert All. His son, Vance, is a resident of NHC Place.
“These people served because they wanted to,” said Catherine Heller, a resident of NHC Place who shares experiences of her duty in Vietnam. “There was no question of when or where or why, they just went.”
Dorothy Coleman held a picture of her sister, Myrtle Hindman, who was the first member of the Women’s Army Corps from Talladega to enlist in World War II. She served in the Philippines, Australia and New Guinea. “She was a secretary at first but she wanted to get into the action,” said Coleman. “She took a mechanics course, and to the ire of the men, passed with flying colors.”
George Bolton served two tours in Vietnam beginning in 1967 and then two tours in Germany for a total of 20 years in the Army. “It was a hard situation,” he said of serving in Vietnam. “The weather was too hot, the enemy too plentiful and the terrain too hard to navigate.”
With a chuckle, he added, “But I got to see the Far East.”
Bolton is president of the Veterans’ Club, a group that usually meets once a month at NHC Place and plans ceremonies for national holidays. “We recognize each individual that has served at that time,” he said.
The ceremonies draw a crowd, said Tim Schultz, NHC Place activities director. “They come to hear a speaker, and the USO dance we had at the last event was really fun.”
The memorial, now two years old, was started when Mrs. Dean Smith brought in a photo of her husband, Herman Smith, and wanted a place of honor to show it. “This gave Derrick Scott, the administrator then, the vision of the memorial,” said Dana Hanshaw, the present administrator. “The rooms, then a sitting room and library, were selected for this display. Anyone can come in to see it and add a photo or artifact, if they wish.”
The question was posed to Bolton: Which photo do you look at most often? “All of them,” he answered without hesitation. “Everyone is a good reminder of the wars and the people who served. The rooms are quiet and peaceful and you can come here to read, see the videos or just think. It’s really nice.”
Cast Kidz starts Sept. 8
CAST Kidz is not only increasing in numbers, the performing arts company is adding to its staff and classes. The 25 students enrolled will be led by Ashley Burrage, children’s director, and Cody Harrell, instructor and coordinator of the group’s touring troupe. Scott Whitney continues as music director.
Besides acting, singing and dancing, skills will be taught in set design, costume design, lighting, sound and directing. Everyone, ages 4-19, will have a hand in the March production of “Seussical, Jr.”
Burrage is fine arts coordinator at The Donoho School, and has been directing plays there for eight years. “I look forward to teaching the kids acting, singing and dancing in order to develop their potential in a Christian environment,” she said. “Their potential is great. This is their place to shine.”
Harrell, one of the original members of CAST Kidz, earned a degree in music at Jacksonville State University in 2013. He is a familiar face on stage to audiences at CAST and JSU productions. Harrell has been a performer, technician and backstage tour guide for the summer outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” in Manteo, N.C., since his graduation and a leader in the JSU Summer Children’s Camp for five years.
Classes will meet from 4-6 p.m. Monday starting Sept. 8 at CAST headquarters, the old Waterworks Building on 11th Street in Anniston. The deadline for registration is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Go to the CAST Kidz Facebook Page or call 256-820-2278 to register.