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Congressman Johnson honors service to our country at Extending the Legacy ceremony
Walter Bentley, of Newton County, is honored by Congressman Hank Johnson. (Submitted Photo | The Covington News)

Congressman Hank Johnson honored both veterans who have served our country, and the young people who have committed to joining our armed services at his “Extending the Legacy” ceremony June 2.

“It is very important for this group of young people to understand the experiences of the older group of veterans they have here before them. Hopefully our veterans can impart the spirit of service to these young people as they make their way forward,” Johnson said. “These students will be training to become our nation’s next military leaders. We are melding yesterday with today and linking that to our future.”

Held at the Lou Walker Senior Center in Lithonia, the program brought several different generations together to both pay homage and congratulate each other.

The primary objective of the ceremony, as penned by Congress, was to thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation.

The commemoration ceremony recognized all who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of duty location.

The Congressman also honored the JROTC programs from Towers High School and Martin Luther King School for their participation in the ceremony and their commitment to building future leaders in the community.

Several Vietnam veterans were in attendance at the program, including Isaac Pippen and Walter Bentley, who live in Newton County. Four other veterans were also honored along with Pippen and Bentley by Congressman Johnson, for sharing their stories as a part of The Library of Congress’ “Veterans History Project.”

The “Veterans History Project” was directed and produced by Xeron Pledger and Shy Armstrong, in Congressman Johnson’s district office. The nearly eight-hour, documentary-style piece, highlights six veterans whose stories have been inducted into the Library of Congress.

The June 2 event was also held to honor several young men and women’s commitment to serve. More than 20 high school students from Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District received nominations to the Service Academy.

This year, students received $4.23 million dollars in scholarships to the U.S. Service Academies and to the Army’s ROTC programs. Scholarship amounts ranged from $30,000 - $400,000 for each student. Congressman Johnson’s Service Academy Program has netted $26,300,000 to date. 

More than a dozen of this year’s recipients attended the program. Family members, teachers and public officials joined the congressman in congratulating these great young men and women.

Those who graduate from a Service Academy will receive a Bachelor of Science degree, be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, and honorably serve in the military for a minimum of five years.

For more information about the Service Academy nomination process and the “Veterans History Project,” contact Congressman Johnson’s office at 770-987-2291.