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City pays tribute to Hometown Hero
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Mayor Harold Fowler and Lt. Col. Jason T. Kidder prepare to lay a wreath at the Veterans Monument in J.F. Gregory Park to remember those who gave their lives in the name of freedom. - photo by Steve Scholar

Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler opened the city’s annual Memorial Day observance by honoring those who have fallen in the defense of the country and then paying special tribute to one who didn’t.

In what has become the norm for the mayor during the annual observance, he picked a “Hometown Hero,” and this year thanked Donald Singleton for his selfless service to the nation.

“He served 19 months and 23 days in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne. He was injured and received the Purple Heart,” the mayor said.

Fowler noted Singleton has always been active in his community and cited his work with local veterans, his behind-the-scenes work to bring the traveling Vietnam Veterans Wall to the city in 2008 and having served as the grand marshal in the city’s Christmas parade as examples of the hero’s civic involvement.

The special speaker for the observance was Lt. Col. Jason T. Kidder, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 7th US Calvary Regiment at Fort Stewart.

Before a group of about 125 people who gathered under threatening skies to listen to the speakers and pay their respects to the nation’s fallen, Kidder, who served two tours in Iraq, said it was only fitting to honor those “who are no longer with us. They are not forgotten.”

“We don’t gather here today to honor those with the most medals. We gather to honor the more than 1 million men and women who have given their lives in the defense of our country in all the nation’s wars,” he said.

Kidder went on to say the country owes a special debt to the families of the fallen, citing the many children who will never know a parent killed in action.

Ana Parodi, commander of Post 2331of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and Rick Gardner, with the local American Legion post, said the nation and Congress owed a special debt of gratitude to those killed in defense of this country and cautioned against forgetting the special promises made to veterans who serve their country every day.

“Veterans paved the way and have given us the reputation as the finest fighting force in the world. We pay tribute and remember our finest,” Parodi said.

Gardner spoke of the importance of hiring veterans and making sure the Veterans Administration is being responsive to the needs of those it is tasked to represent.

“Veterans won’t let veterans down,” he said.

The ceremony concluded with the laying of the wreath of remembrance at the Veterans Monument, a 21-gun salute to honor the fallen and the playing of taps by Richmond Hill police sergeant Tim Saia.

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