By Michelle Stewart | Staff Writer

The word “veteran” has a special meaning to William “Bill” Harting, 73, a resident of Sugar Hill for the past 26 years. 

Harting was born and raised in Albany, New York, the son of a veteran. Rising to the rank of staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, he served for 13 years from 1973 to 1986. During those years of service, Harting lived and was stationed in California, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Okinawa, Japan.

The city of Sugar Hill honored Harting, a member of the Historic Preservation Society, by hosting him as the veteran speaker at its annual Veterans Day Ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 13, at the city’s Veterans Memorial Plaza. 

Harting said he is proud to have served his country for more than a decade. 

“It was the best 13 years, even meeting my wife in 1976, and we’ve been married ever since,” he said. 

Harting’s father, a 102-year-old veteran of WWII, is still living but was unable to attend the ceremony.

Discussing what it means to be a veteran, Harting read an eloquent explanation by an unknown author about understanding military veterans. He closed with the words, “Stand tall and proud, you have earned the right to be called a veteran. I am a veteran. Thank you.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Taylor Anderson also spoke during the ceremony of remembering and honoring his grandfather, Corporal Ivan Chase, who served in World War II. Anderson thanked the veterans who were present and gave a brief history of Veterans Day, which was originally celebrated as Armistice Day in 1919 at the end of World War I to mark the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany. This signing took place at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, with its first observance taking place in 1919. Thus, Nov. 11 became a federal holiday in 1938, formally becoming Veterans Day in 1954 when it was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a veteran. 

Speaking of the nation’s veterans, Anderson said, “We must acknowledge their sacrifice and service, not just today, but every day. We can’t take their service for granted nor forget that they are the best of us.”

Kathryn Baskin, chair of the Sugar Hill Historic Preservation Society, spoke of the importance of the city’s Veterans Memorial Plaza and noted there are 137 veterans buried in the Sugar Hill Historic Cemetery. Baskin invited attendees to view bricks within the plaza that are engraved with the names of veterans, their branches of service and the years they served. 

Stephanie Isaacs, Sugar Hill’s cemeterian, who is responsible for taking care of the cemetery and the graves of service members buried there, expressed gratitude to those who attended the ceremony. Isaacs described the life of Lieutenant Corporal James Franklin Payne, who is buried in the city cemetery. Payne served his country as a Marine for three years beginning in 1956 and was always proud of his military service. Isaacs announced that Payne will be honored by the Veterans Administration and the City of Sugar Hill with a military stone that will be placed on his grave.

Rebecca Jordan of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter was the final speaker of the ceremony. Jordan, along with Baskin, recognized the veterans of America with the dedication of two wreaths, describing them as “a visual representation of gratitude and determination to remember to pause and tell the stories of those that have served.”

The Broad Street Concert Band provided music for the ceremony and accompanied Meredith Rosbach, who sang the National Anthem. Several veterans were present as members of the band. The American Legion Post 127 Honor Guard fired a three-volley salute in honor of those who have served, and Boy Scout Troop 1537 attended to assist with the flag raising.

FEATURED PHOTO: William “Bill” Harting, a Marine Corps veteran, speaks during Sugar Hill’s Veterans Day Ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at the city’s Veterans Memorial Plaza.

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