TIFTON - First Baptist Church pastor Wayne Roe will be the keynote speaker at this year's downtown Veterans Day celebration, organizer Jack Stone said Tuesday.

"We've had Purple Hearts and people like that in the past, but we've got something going on at home now and we think we need encouragement from local people," said Stone.

The holiday will be observed at 11 a.m. Saturday at Veterans Park.

Also on the program will be Mayor Paul Johnson, the Rev. Melvin McDaniel, Henry Bostick, Tyron Spearman and the Tifton Police Department Honor Guard.

Veterans Day actually falls on Sunday this year, but Stone said the observance was planned on Saturday to allow more people to come.

Nov. 11 will be the 83rd anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I. While the anniversary was observed in the years after the war, it was not until 1938 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill proclaiming the day a national holiday.

The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1953 to include the contributions of veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

In this year's Veterans Day proclamation, issued by President George W. Bush, schools were asked to invite veterans to speak as part of National Veterans Awareness Week, Nov. 11-17. There are an estimated 25 million living veterans in the United States.

"With the preacher giving the program, I was thinking the other day that when he climbs into the pulpit on Sunday, it will be 11 o'clock on 11/11," said Stone. "That's the exact time the Armistice was signed."

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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