News / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
Veterans Day ceremony: In honor of past and present service
By Sally Voth
Unfortunately, "the war to end all wars" didn't, the crowd gathered on the Warren County Courthouse lawn and nearby street in honor of Veterans Day was told on Monday.
The ceremony was led by Roy Taylor, past vice commander of the American Legion, who noted that the holiday was originally called Armistice Day.
The armistice was reached between the Allies and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It was made a legal holiday in 1938 and "Armistice" was changed to "Veterans" in 1954. Sunday was Veterans Day, but some groups held ceremonies on Monday.
Featured speaker was American Legion Post 53 1st Vice Commander Clarence Hartsell.
"We remember their valor," Hartsell told the assembled veterans, school children and others.
"They fought to preserve our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They fought because their country asked them to take up arms. They went where they were sent, did what they had to do, and prayed they would survive and return home.
"Today there are nearly 25 million American veterans. Less than half of them are over the age of 65."
Those veterans are from all professions, and Hartsell said he could understand many of the younger ones wouldn't attend the ceremony because they had to be at work. But, he added, in later years, they will be the ones at ceremonies honoring today's older vets.
Hartsell noted the history of the holiday is anchored in Nov. 11, 1918 and the men who fought in World War One.
"Despite the Dough Boys' dream, it was not the war to end all wars," he said. "[Today's vets] are young men and women just like we once were.
"As we honor veterans today, we would do well to remember that our freedom did not come easy on the battlefields of the globe. We are forever thankful to those who served and those surviving today. To those veterans out there today, I thank you. I salute you."
Following the ceremony, Front Royal resident Charlene Keys went up to World War II veteran Elwood Polk and thanked him on behalf of herself and her husband, Roger. She hadn't met Polk or the other nearby veterans in wheelchairs.
"[I thanked them] because we saw the emotion in their faces during the ceremony, and realized that they have lived for many decades with memories that we cannot even begin to understand," she said.
Jonathan and Melissa Schall of Front Royal brought their toddler son Jackson to the ceremony and watched their daughter Lexie sing with students from E.W. Morrison Elementary School.
"It was fantastic," said Schall, an Army veteran himself. "What a great day to celebrate the veterans."
Students from E.W. Morrison, Riverfront Christian School, Warren County High School and Skyline High School joined in the ceremony with cadets from Randolph-Macon Academy, who fired off a 21-gun salute.
It's important to include young people in the event, said Doug Ramos, past department commander of the legion and an organizer of the ceremony.
"If you want to be remembered, you bring it to the children," he said. "And, they look forward to coming."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org