In honor of first responders and veterans, state Rep. John McCravy hosted a barbecue feast at the Greenwood County Farmers Market.
In attendance were local chiefs and sheriffs, elected officials, Army generals, law enforcement and corrections officers, residents who have lost family in the line of duty, EMTs, department directors and an abundance of servicemen and women.
“Every day, underpaid first responders and corrections officers risk their lives and sacrifice nights, weekends and family time to keep us safe,” McCravy said. “Our veterans have served our state and nation with honor and courage, and deserve our thanks, so that is what this event is about. I think of this as like a pep rally for those who serve.”
McCravy acknowledged various dignitaries throughout the festivities and prompted them to stand to be praised for their accomplishments and courageous acts of heroism while serving or while on duty.
Men and women, adorned in their service uniforms, stood up and received roaring applause from their peers and other attendees.
Following the invocation and prayer by retired Gen. Chuck Fox, Boy Scout Troop 911 presented the colors, Maj. Gen. Van McCarty — South Carolina’s adjunct general — led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ware Shoals High School band played the national anthem.
McCravy also took time to individually honor some local first responders and veterans. Retired EMT Chris Barnes was one of the many first responders that rose throughout the evening, and the only non-first responder or veteran that stood was the girl whose life he saved three years ago, Amberlea Smith. On Feb. 4, 2016, Smith ran off the road and hit a tree nearly crippling her. Because of Barnes and other EMTs that day, three years later, after first reports that she’d never walk again, she’s now a student at Lander University and can walk without any assistance.
“I can’t even put into words how thankful I am, everything they did for me. It brings me to tears, I’m lucky to be alive,” a choked-up Smith said. “It means a lot to be here and Chris Barns retiring after 40 years of service, I’m sure he’s done the same for a lot of different people, it just means a lot.”
McCravy maintained his composure a majority of the night, but he couldn’t hold back his emotions when he commemorated his father, John R. McCravy, sister, Laura, and brother-in-law, Kip Hunter.
“This is fabulous, this is the coming together of people from all walks of life uniting around on thing, and that is for our first responders, our law enforcement, our country and Greenwood,” said retired U.S. Air Force Col. Laura McCravy Hunter. “This is typical John McCravy, he loves people, he loves the people in this area and he loves getting people together in celebration. This is a fabulous example of everything that’s great about small-town America.”
The evening ended with the Ware Shoals High School band playing an armed service medley, and all the veterans stood when the song of their branch of the military song was played. The veterans and first responders were then dismissed to indulge in some more barbecue.