Veterans honored at UCA rally

by Sonja J. Keith

Local veterans were honored Thursday during a Veterans Day Rally sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas and City of Conway.

The 16th annual event was held on the Old Main Lawn at UCA.

Maj. Jonathan Gray served as the master of ceremonies, with UCA President Tom Courtway and U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin offering the welcome.

“Every day should be Veterans Day,” said Courtway.

Dr. Charles Watson, president of the UCA Faculty Senate, asked for a moment of silence to honor the men and women who have served or who are serving in the military as well as those who made the supreme sacrifice.

Mayor Tab Townsell read a proclamation naming Nov. 7 as “Veterans Appreciation Day in Conway.”

Brig. Gen. Dwight Balch, commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard, was the guest speaker. He noted that there are an estimated 8,000 veterans in Faulkner County. “Our veterans represent the very best of America.”

Balch said “freedom is not free” and steps must be taken to protect the future of the United States. “Never have so few been called to protect so many.”

Also at the rally, UCA presented an honorary doctorate of public service to the family of LTC William Leon Russell Sr. Sen. Jason Rapert also presented several senate citations.

Sen. Jason Rapert (left) presents an Arkansas Senate Citation to Gene Hatfield for his military service and contributions.

Music was provided by the UCA Brass Quintet and UCA Concert Choir.

Veterans had an opportunity to register for door prizes and visit vendor booths. Free food was also provided.

Major sponsors for the event were UCA and Acxiom.