WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Fair held a tribute ceremony Thursday morning to honor every veteran who has fought, served, and sacrificed for their country.
In addition to the tribute ceremony, the annual Veterans’ Tribute Day at the Shenandoah County Fair offered all-day free admission for veterans as well as vendors and informational resources for veterans.
Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Zerkel, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 936, kicked off the tribute ceremony by recognizing the veterans in attendance. The high school bands from Strasburg, Central, and Mountain View performed songs that were special to each branch of service.
There were several speakers at the ceremony. Kenneth Allenworth, Air Force veteran and director of the VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, said that in his position he strives to provide high-quality care at the medical center for all veterans. He continued by saying that the VA Medical Center will continue to build on having an “expansion of services to meet the needs of our current and our future veterans.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, was Rep. Ben Cline (R-6th), who spoke about the importance of veterans’ memorials and how they give people the opportunity to recognize and honor the history of the country’s veterans.
“They are a reminder of the sacrifices of veterans and their families, but also are a constant reminder that freedom is not free,” Cline said.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter also spoke at the tribute ceremony, thanking the veterans in attendance for all the sacrifices they made for the country.
“I, and the rest of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office staff, we’re so grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to serve you,” Carter said.
After the tribute ceremony, Robert Peepie, an 86-year-old Army veteran and Shenandoah County resident, said he enjoyed the ceremony and to him it was more about honoring those who went before him.
“I just want to commemorate the people that lost their lives for our freedom,” Peepie said.
Peepie reminisced about the moment when he was first drafted into the military in 1959, and he said that at the time he was not happy during his two years of service.
“I was upset that I got drafted,” Peepie said.
As time passed, Peepie said that he became more grateful for his experience in the military.
“The Army has been really good to me,” Peepie said. “I learned so much from the Army for my life.”
Dave Dagget, a 74-year-old Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War from 1967-1969, said he appreciates the tribute ceremony the Shenandoah County Fair holds every year, which wasn’t the case when he came back home from the military.
“It means a hell of a lot because when we came back from Vietnam, we didn’t get honored at all,” Dagget said. “The fact is that it was almost a shame to say that you were in Vietnam.”
Dagget said that when Shenandoah County first began holding the veterans’ tribute ceremony at the fair, he was never able to see it.
“My wife and I had a food trailer here for 16 years, and I never got to see the whole program because we were working,” Dagget said with a laugh.
In 2019, Dagget and his wife sold their food trailer, and have been attending the tribute ceremony ever since. “It means a lot to me,” Dagget said. “It means a whole lot to every veteran.”