Honoring veterans for service and sacrifice

Highlands American Legion Post 370 honored those who have served and sacrificed at a Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday. Traditionally held at the Highlands Veterans Plaza in front of the police department, this year the ceremony was moved to the deck of the Highlands Playhouse to avoid the rain.

Despite the weather, over 60 people showed up to pay their respects and Post 370 Commander Ed McCloskey said people attend this ceremony each year to help feel a connection with family members who have served in the military.

“Just like the fabric of the uniforms they’ve worn, and the insignias sewn on them, a common thread unites each of our country’s veterans, they dared to serve,” said McCloskey. “We pause today to salute all those who have made the choice to serve together”

American Legion Post 370 Commander Ed McCloskey at the Veterans Day ceremony in Highlands.

Highlands Mayor and Army veteran Pat Taylor said a few words honoring veterans and said veterans continue to serve after active duty.

“It was so gratifying to see so many people at the ceremony to honor veterans,” said Taylor. “I have said on numerous occasions that veterans serve our country whether they are on active duty or as civilians after service. They bring many skills learned in the military to the communities where they live.”

Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor addresses the crowd gathered for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.

Highlands Police Chief Andrea Holland spoke for the first time at the annual ceremony since being hired as Chief and stressed the importance of continuing to honor veterans for their service and sacrifice.

“It is important to honor our veterans because without the sacrifices of these brave men and women we may not have the freedoms we all enjoy; whether it be our rights to vote, our freedoms of religion or our right to live as we choose,” said Holland.

HPD Chief Andrea Holland spoke at the Veterans Day ceremony and said it’s an honor and a privilege to work with several veterans at the Highlands Police Department.

Holland added that she was unsure about applying for the position of HPD Chief, but after multiple reassuring conversations with Navy veteran David Head, she had the confidence that she was making the correct decision.

Head tragically lost his life along with his wife, Dawn, earlier this year in a motorcycle accident. David was among 21 veterans honored this year with bricks installed in the Honor Walk.

“David Head was a deputy with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, but much greater than that, he was my friend,” said Holland. “He called me a week before his passing, which was just before I applied for the Chief of Police position. I wasn’t sure that I was the right person for the job, but I knew I wanted the position to go to someone who knew our great town and the great people who call Highlands home. David insisted that I apply, he told me that I was the right person for the job and I would do great things for the community and for the officers, among many other reasons. I knew that day, I would send my application. See, David was raised in Highlands, so if anyone knew what the community needed, then I figured he did.”

Bugler Ed Jones plays Taps on Veterans Day.

To purchase a brick along the Honor Walk contact Bill Edwards at edwa7353@bellsouth.net.

Veterans memorialized along the Honor Walk on Nov. 11, 2020:

  • David Head, Navy
  • Ed Parks, Army
  • Taylor Masurmarra, Navy
  • Bruce Lahman, Marine Corps
  • Dennis Bowman, Navy
  • George Youmans, Navy
  • Charles Chidsey, Army
  • Pat Taylor, Army
  • William Brinson, Air Force
  • George Schmidt, Navy
  • Gary Drake, Air Force
  • Raymond Viers, Army
  • Sylvan Dyer, Army
  • Gerald Walker, Navy
  • Edmund Bowen, Marine Corps
  • Wilson Miller, Army
  • Robert Zahner, Army Air Corps
  • Jim Aliff, Navy
  • David Hagan, Army
  • Gregory Clarkson, Navy
  • Rodney Cook, Navy

Highlands Police Department Officers who are veterans:

  • Chief Andrea Holland, Navy
  • Mike Jolly, Navy
  • Thomas Parker, Marines
  • Johnathan Phillips, Marines
  • Officer John Cherry, Marines

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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