GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Though the official veterans day is Monday the 11th, one East Texas county came together today to honor veterans, and remember one veteran that was so much a part of their annual observance,
The Gregg County Veterans Day remembrance took on a solemn feel. The man who was synonymous with patriotism, marine corps veteran Danny ‘Gunny’ Whyte" passed away last week, and was sorely missed at the event.
“Every time there was a veterans event on the courthouse lawn, he was here. For that last 15 years that I’ve worked for Gregg County, he was here,” said Gregg County Justice of the Peace Tim Bryan.
Whyte had originated the tradition of the 'flag circle' at patriotic events, and his absence left many tearful.
"The flag circle was a little bit emotional I think, not seeing him there. I saw a lot of misty eyes as the flag circle formed and he wasn't standing in the middle of it," said observer Sharon Williamson.
State Representative Jay Dean and county judge Bill Stoudt both spoke of the influence Whyte had on patriotic events in Longview.
“The Marine Corps value of honor, dedication to duty and courage had no finer champion than Gunny Wythe, who leaves behind a record of service that his family can remember with pride,” Dean said.
"It's important for all of us to remember that veterans are defending us 24-7, 365," Stoudt said.
As veterans came forward to be recognized, many see future events as a way to honor all vets like Whyte.
"You could certainly feel something was missing. When you walk out here and don't see that marine uniform, you definitely know something was missing," said Williamson.
The event was concluded with the playing of taps.
The ‘flag circle’ will continue as a tribute to Whytes memory.