County fair hosts Veterans’ Tribute Day

Korean veteran Billy Scott, 83 , of Boyce, salutes during the playing of the national anthem during the Veterans Tribute held Thursday morning at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Veterans’ Tribute Day at the Shenandoah County Fair kicked off Thursday morning with a ceremony that included music, prayer, and speeches.

“Thank you for your service to maintain the freedoms of our country,” was the message on the pamphlet handed out to everyone entering the grandstand for the ceremony.

The Central High School band played patriotic music as visitors arrived and members of the school’s flag corps twirled their flags to the tunes.

Ray Powell, master of ceremonies, thanked everyone for coming out to support veterans and gave additional shout outs to the service organizations that help veterans every day of the year.

“Freedom does not come cheap,” Powell said.

Color Guard units from American Legion Post 199 of Woodstock, left, and Post 2447 of Edinburg, parade toward the grandstand at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds during the start of the Veterans Tribute on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily

After the massing and presentation of colors as the band played the National Anthem, the pledge of allegiance was followed by an opening prayer by the Rev. Paul Campbell of AMVETS.

Special guests were introduced and a salute to each service with its service song was recognized. The U.S. Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force and Navy were among the services noted. Each was followed by a thundering applause from the crowd.

“Be proud of your service,” Powell,  a retired Army veteran, told the veterans in attendance.

“The schools are the future of our foundations,” Powell said as the school programs were introduced.

Caleb Sine, winner of the American Legion essay contest, recited his winning speech on why he appreciates the work of those who serve their country.

Gwennie Freeman, 17, of Woodstock, a member of Central High School's marching band, waves her flag during their performance Thursday morning during the Veterans Tribute at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily

Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Terry Djuric, commandant of the cadet corps for the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, thanked Sine, the band, the fair association and Powell for their part in making the Veterans’ Tribute Day possible.

“It provides an opportunity for our community to remember,” Djuric said.

She then addressed the veterans. “We owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.”

Offering words of encouragement to those serving the military, she said, “We express our gratitude for those currently defending.”

Powell began closing the ceremony by saying, “We must not forget all those who fought for our freedom.”

Vietnam veteran Chuck Walton, 66, of Woodstock, holds his hand over his heart during the closing prayer at the Veterans Tribute at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds on Thursday morning. Rich Cooley/Daily

WWII veteran’s names were called out and those in attendance were awarded certificates recognizing their service, along with a loud applause from the crowd.

Many of those recognized were brought to the event by local nursing homes and the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

“Thank and learn from the vets here today,” Powell said.

A closing prayer was followed by the band playing “God Bless America” and a final thanks to all.

The Rolling Thunder drive-by closed out the ceremony. Rolling Thunder was first organized by Vietnam veterans in 1987 to make certain that Americans never forget prisoners of war and those missing in action. They drove their motorcycles down the track, honking their horns and waving along the way.

Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Terry Djuric speaks during the Veterans Tribute on Thursday morning at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Displays and veteran information were available throughout the day, along with special discounts and free treats for the veterans.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

Veterans bow their heads during the closing prayer to conclude the Veterans Tribute held Thursday morning at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. Rich Cooley/Daily