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Ellijay, GA
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The Ellijay Lions Club will serve a free barbecue lunch to all veterans, military personnel and their families Friday, Nov. 9, beginning at noon. Photo by Michael Andrews

by Michael Andrews

As part of a daylong tribute to Gilmer County’s veterans, Friday, Nov. 9, two complimentary meals will be served to veterans, military personnel and their families in advance of the holiday observed Sunday, Nov. 11.  

First United Methodist Church, located at 75 McCutchen Street, will serve breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. Friday morning. The veterans breakfast will precede the downtown parade and honorary ceremony set to begin at 10 a.m.

The breakfast is a team effort between the church and the Lions Club, said longtime Lion and retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Herman Clark.

“The ladies in the Lions Club generally seek food contributions from different businesses around town,” Clark added.

Later the same day, all veterans, military and family members are invited to attend a barbecue plate lunch at the Ellijay Lions Club on South Main Street. Lunch will be served starting at noon or just after the downtown events have ended.

“(It will go) until the last people leave. Last year we were there until 2:30 or a quarter till three,” said Clark.

Last year, veterans lunch attendees were able to get an up close view of two Cobra helicopters, which flew over the downtown events and landed at the Lions Club Fairgrounds. This year, weather permitting, an Army helicopter is scheduled to perform a flyover and will be on display behind the Lions Club afterward, said Clark.

The Lions Club Veterans Day Lunch, held annually for nearly 15 years, was spearheaded by former Lion Lou Harley, Clark confirmed. The late Harley was active in local causes that supported and recognized veterans, he added.

“I give Lou all the credit in the world. She was the one who really started this thing. No question about it, she was (supportive of veterans (causes),” Clark added. 

The annual breakfast and lunch draw hundreds of active and retired military men and women who span multiple generations –– from the enlisted who fought in World War II to present day wars in the Middle East. Both occasions bring them together to commemorate a special day of remembrance and recognition.

“For the breakfast, we probably get a couple hundred. For the lunch, it’s more than that –– probably 400. It’s a full house until it’s pretty close to being over with,” said Clark.

It’s also a way for the local civic organization, the membership of which is steeped in veterans and retired military personage, to say “thank you” to those here who have served in the line of duty.

“There’s a ton of veterans in this community. The list grows, seems like, every year,” said Clark.

Veterans, enlisted military and their spouses are reminded that the Gilmer County Rotary Club will hold its Veterans Appreciation Dinner Thursday night, Nov. 8, at the Ellijay First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Dalton Street. Registration for the event will begin at 5:30 p.m.; dinner will start at 6.

Reservations are not required for any of the meals Thursday or Friday.

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