By Haley Wilson
The Birmingham Times
Major George Bowman, Retired United States Army Veteran and Cameron Marzette, the Army National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group, may be separated by more than 50 years in age, but they’re united in one important aspect — love of country.
Bowman, 73, and Marzette, 22 shared what service meant for them as the annual Birmingham Veterans Day Parade was held downtown Thursday for a “live and in-person” tribute to the nation’s veterans after last year’s virtual celebration amid safety concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We serve in over 120 countries around the globe,” said Bowman, who entered the Army in 1969 and retired in 2005. “We have service members not just in the continental United States . . . not just Iraq and Afghanistan. But we serve in over 120 countries around this globe, helping to preserve peace, and the American way of life.”
Marzette, who enlisted in 2020, said Veterans Day for him was an acknowledgement and remembrance “for those who have served and continue to serve and what they’ve sacrificed personally for us.”
Being in the military, Bowman said, “shaped me as a man… it shaped me as a parent. It shaped me as a person. The values that I learned in the military, stay with me daily. The discipline that I learned in the military, still follow me to this day, and they shape the kind of person that I am and the kind of person that I’ve trained my sons to be as well.”
The military is in his family’s DNA, he said.
“There are five generations in my family going all the way back to World War I up through me and on to my children and my grandchildren,” he said. “My grandfather, Private Brooks Bowman served in World War I. My father was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He served in World War II where he earned two air medals. My brother served for eight years as an air defender in Air Defense Artillery.
“My son George Jr. is a West Point graduate, and he has served more than 14 years. He’s still in the Army Reserve. My grandson George III is a Naval Academy graduate, and he’s currently serving on active duty in Norfolk Naval Base. My daughter-in-law is a captain in the Navy. My wife is a veteran. She is a major she teaches JROTC Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps here in in Birmingham at Woodlawn High School, which she’s done that for more than 24 years now.”
Marzette said, “I’ve always had a respect for the military… “but once I became a part of it and interacted with these great men and women on a daily basis…and know what they personally had to give up. Some people I know were absent from the birth of their first child, graduations, anniversaries . . . the things we sometimes take for granted on the civilian side. So, I think this is just a great way to say thanks.”
After enlisting, Marzette said he’s also seen changes since joining the Army. . . “just to see the growth from where I was before, and where I am now… my family sees the positive impact, the military has had on me, and they’re all for it. They love it. It’s important to me to extend the blueprint to my family if they choose to join one day.”