Veterans, leaders and citizens from McKinney and surrounding area gathered at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Craig Ranch on Saturday morning to commemorate the service of Collin County veterans. The ceremony, which began with several patriotic songs performed by the McKinney North High School Choir, was led by Ralph French of the McKinney Armed Services Memorial Board.
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller introduced Congressman Sam Johnson (R, Third Dist.) to a standing ovation from the crowd. Johnson, who is a highly decorated 29 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, spent seven years as a POW in Hanoi, including 42 months in solitary confinement. Johnson has served as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991.
"North Texas has a rich legacy of men and women who have answered the call of duty to protect the values that we as Americans value so dearly. Our veterans are drawn from many generations and many backgrounds and you can see that right here in McKinney. On this veterans day, we give thanks for the more than 24 million Americans who strengthen our nation with their examples of service and sacrifice. All have contributed to the greatness of this America that we love," Johnson told the audience.
Johnson ended his brief address with, "May God bless our veterans, may God bless all who wear the uniform and may God continue to bless this United States of America. I salute each and every one of you - you are great patriots."
Captain Steve Brainerd, who is a graduate Navy Fighter Weapons School, (Top Gun) and completed 219 combat missions in Vietnam, recognized the veterans who were in the crowd. Brainerd currently serves as Superintendent of Parks Development in McKinney.
A somber rendition of taps followed by a missing man fly over concluded the program.