The city of Cleveland held their annual veteran’s day program today.

The annual program this year almost didn’t happen because of the pandemic, but American Legion Post 165 Commander Leon Weeks said local officials worked with his group to make sure the program went on.

 “As long as it was not raining we could have it outside thank god we prayed for no rain  turned out to be a pretty day and a good turnout and we look forward to doing it every year,” he said.

And local veterans like former state senator Nevin Sledge always look forward to attending.

“This is great to come out here, when you get to my age it’s great to be able to go anywhere,” he said with a smile.

On February 6 , Sledge will celebrate his 100th birthday, a milestone he said he’s lucky to reach, remembering all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

 “How lucky I was, I was able to come home from World War Two and there’s tens of thousands of them out there that didn’t make it,” he said.

Sledge is still going strong though planning a large birthday celebration for a century of life.

 “I told my children I’m going to spend a lot your money on a big party but I’m afraid we’ll have to back up and cut it down a little bit, “he said due to the pandemic.

And when asked what it’s like to live for 100 years, here’s what he had to say.

“It’s wonderful to be 100 years old and I wake up feeling good, I go to bed feeling good, so I’m just doing fine, I want to make it to 100 and my great grandchildren from all over the country want to come to my party if we have it and I’m one of the real lucky ones now you keep hearing that but this is true.”

He said his luck came from being a flight instructor during World War Two. Sledge was a Marine pilot during the war, flying various transport planes. Then teaching pilots to fly who later went on to have spotless flying records like his.

“I was lucky I never put a scratch on an airplane,” he said with a smile.

And the day is a double celebration for Sledge and other Marines, Tuesday was the Marine Corp’s 245th Birthday, and he is just as proud as ever.

“Once a Marine you’re always a Marine; Marines are very proud of their service, that’s just the way it is and I hope it will continue to be that way,”

Also in attendance to speak at the ceremony were Cleveland Mayor Henry Perkins and Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams along with several other local officials and residents.

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