Charles Wilson, a veteran of combat in the Vietnam War,
spoke in 2019 at the First Baptist Christian Schools Veterans Day ceremony,
recounting how he had gone off to war with three teenaged friends from
Apalachicola, and another man from Port St. Joe.
He did so again on Thursday. Nov. 11 and this time he went further
than the tunnels where he detonated explosive laid by the enemy.
This time, his words shook the rafters, as he addressed the
spiritual fight that took place in the hearts of families back home, such as in
the prayers of his grandmother Ola Turner.
They would walk by grandmas house and hear her praying all
the way down the street, he told the audience that filled the sanctuary. Her
prayers got attention in heaven, Im living proof of it today.
The First Baptist program was one of two held on Nov. 11,
the latter at the foot of the St. George Island Lighthouse at 11 a.m., the
traditional moment when the armistice was struck ending World War I.
The First Baptist ceremony once again featured students,
from Kindergartners up through seniors, any in red, white and blue caps that embodied
the spirit of the day.
The First Baptist ceremony blended patriotic songs and recitations
by the students with those, such as the singing of The Lords Army that
bespoke the service to God that underlines the veterans commitment.
Were at war today, not a physical war, its a spiritual
war, said Wilson. Everywhere you turn it seems like evils on a rampage.
My God is still alive and well, he said, in the cadence of
a preacher. We need to know were serving God. We have probably the greatest
military on the planet, but my faith is not in Washington, D.C. My faith is in
Led by Principal Carline Kembro and Pastor Jeff Strickland,
the service was assisted with audio-visuals above the altar, and concluded with
the singing of God Bless America.
Gordon Adkin sang the same song to close out the islands Veterans
Day program, which opened with the first appearance at such a program by the newly-formed
Franklin County High School JROTC Color Guard.
Air Force Col. Christopher Anderson emceed the program, which
included introductions by Air Force veteran and island resident Bob Heide. Mike Whaley, pastor of the
islands First Baptist Church, offered both the invocation and benediction.
Because the retired Air Force major general slated
to speak was grounded by weather, the keynote address was given by retired Army Major Gen.
James Donald, an island resident. Donald, who stepped in an hour before the
program was set to begin, offered an impassioned speech about the role of the
veterans in embracing military service and ensuring the nations freedoms.
Afterwards, all guests were treated to a full lunch,
complete with cake.