Rim country residents are invited to share in a special tribute to members of the armed forces at Payson's Veterans Day ceremonies.
The programs, built around the theme, "America's Veterans: Past, Present and Future," include a flag raising ceremony at Mazatzal Casino and a presentation of music, speakers and honors at the Payson High School auditorium.
"All citizens are invited to join with friends and neighbors to commemorate those who have defended, and continue to defend, the standards and values upon which our country was founded, and renew our resolve in support of the American way of life," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Bill Sahno, who has helped organize the two programs.
The flag ceremony will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Thursday, at theazatzal Casino Flag Pole. Guest speakers scheduled to participate are Maj. Phil Prince, Mayor Barbara Brewer and Tonto Apache Tribal Councilor Louise Lopez. There will also be music and tributes.
This will be followed by a veterans tribute from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Payson High School auditorium.
The program will feature guest speakers Col. Art Stone and Prince; a presentation by Mayor Brewer; and music and tributes.
"I'm so darn proud the veterans would ask me to do this again when there are so many other stories out there," Prince said. He was one of the featured speakers at the 2003 Veterans Day ceremonies and at the 2004 Memorial Day program.
"This year is in memory of Chuck Longabaugh," Prince said of the retired Marine sergeant who recently passed away. "He was my mentor when I came to town -- he was the guy who drove the Jeep with the soldier in it (in parades)."
Prince first came to the area in 1972, when he parachuted into a patch of cactuses south of Rye. Later, he and others in his skydiving unit, landed in the rodeo grounds as part of the Payson Does Care program.
"We were treated so royally, I swore I would retire here because of the people," Prince said. He was finally able to keep his promise to himself last year when he and his wife made their home in Payson.
Those attending the flag ceremony at the casino may get a ride to the second program on the Mazatzal Casino Shuttle.
In the event of bad weather, the flag ceremony will be held in the casino's bingo hall
The services are presented by the Payson Patriotic Events Committee.