Although the Jefferson County Courthouse was closed Friday, a group of county employees and military veterans gathered on the west side of the parking lot to raise a new American flag in honor of Veterans Day. The event was organized by County Judge Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV and his wife Phyllis, who said the ceremony was to say “thank you for your service.” She also offered veterans and their families a thanks for their sacrifices.
Phyllis Wilkins said several members of her family had served in the military, while Judge Wilkins said his father, the late Henry “Hank”Wilkins III, served in Korea; one of Wilkins’s sons also served. In addition, he said two of his brothers had served, one in the Army and the second in the Marines.
“It’s important to remember their commitment and their sacrifice,” he said. “We would not live in a free country without their service.”
The two also talked about the local Veteran’s Service office, which is located in the 100 block of Main Street and can provide information not only to veterans but to members of their families. Currently, that office is open only on a part-time basis, but Judge Wilkins said the county is actively seeking volunteers to assist the one person there in having the office open every day.
Wilkins’ Chief of Staff, Lloyd Franklin II, said after the ceremony that when the county’s new website goes online after the first of the year, there will be a link to the Veteran’s Service office. The county is also working with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to provide veterans with information about things like scholarships and financial aid, Franklin said. Also Friday, Sheriff Gerald Robinson, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, released a message calling for everyone to honor veterans on their special day.
“We as citizens sometimes seek for heroes who would save our day; however, as we seek, we often forget the existing heroes who fought for our freedom years ago and those who continue that fight today,” Robinson said.
“Every year when we celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, we are reminded to thank our family, friends, community members, and especially our very own officers and staff, who have served or are serving in all branches of the military,” he said. “Our veterans and their families have made many sacrifices to keep our country safe. As an American citizen and retired Army veteran, I am ever so humbled by the bravery and courage of our veterans in our community and abroad.”
“I welcome all Americans to join my staff and I in remembering the reason for our freedom,” Robinson said. “We strongly encourage everyone to think of our veterans and thank them when you see them. We support and honor our veterans, not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year.”