Salute to service

FRONT ROYAL — Veterans Day is “a time we set aside to remember these great Americans,” American Legion Post 53 Second Vice Commander Roy Taylor reminded a crowd gathered outside of the Warren County Courthouse on a warm Tuesday morning.

The post’s annual Veterans Day event is a way of helping people honor and remember veterans and the wars they fought in. On this day, American Legion Post 53 adjutant and retired U.S. Navy veteran Doug Ramos told area residents, veterans and their families,  we “tell [the youth] how it really was back then.”

Keynote speaker, retired U.S. Marine Lt. Gen Norman H. Smith, noted this Veterans Day was a special one “in this year of 2014 in the 21st century.” The holiday marks the centennial anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Smith said WWI was “at the time … considered to be so immense, so catastrophic, so bloody and so dehumanizing that it would never be forgotten.”

But World War I is a conflict that, Smith said, “after the passage of a century of frequent warfare” has been forgotten by the public at large.

Taylor noted that, however vital, “time does not allow us to recount every story from every war.”

“However,” Taylor told the crowd, “each [story] should be persevered and handed down to our children and grandchildren, for they are the fabric upon which this great tapestry we call America has been woven.”

Through the retelling of stark history lessons that included tales of loss and stories of triumph, Smith and Taylor offered the crowd many reasons to remember veterans on this Veterans Day.

Following the ceremony, Taylor said that historical conflicts such as World War I are hard for younger generations to grasp.

“[It is hard] for [many Americans] to grasp simply because they have not had the education and experience,” Taylor said. “It is up to us, as the American veterans, to relay that information to them.”

He said 99 percent of Americans today are unfamiliar with how devastating war is. To the vital 1 percent of the public that constitutes retired and active veterans, he said war is all  too real. And to someone like Taylor, every day is Veterans Day.

“I guess you could say I’m like an elephant. I never forget and never want to forget,” he said.

In addition to area veterans and their families, the crowd included members of marching bands from Randolph-Macon Academy, Warren County High School and Skyline High School. They participated in the event by playing renditions of melodies from each branch of the military.

<em>Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or <a href=“mailto:kgreen@nvdaily.com”>kgreen@nvdaily.com</a></em>