Dozens gathered on a gray and rainy morning under the Highlands Playhouse awning to pay homage to all who have served in the U.S. military at the annual Veterans Day ceremony hosted American Legion Post 970.
Veterans Day is Nov. 11 in recognition of the end WWI. The armistice to end the war was signed at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, in the 11th month in 1918.
Speakers at the Veterans Day ceremony included Highlands Mayor and Army veteran Pat Taylor, Highlands Police Chief and Navy veterans Andrea Holland, and Post 370 Commander Ed McCloskey. Taps was played by bugler and past Post Commander Ed Jones. Opening and closing prayers given by Post Chaplain Paul Schowalter.
Traditionally held at Veterans Memorial Plaza in front of the Highlands Police Station, the ceremony was moved under the Playhouse’s awning to avoid the rain.
When Taylor took the podium, he remarked “It’s a beautiful day, this is GI weather.”
He said a person in the military is in fact government issue, or a GI, and an extension of the will and policies of the United States. He paid tribute the first GIs, the brave patriots who endured “hell on Earth,” fighting with George Washington throughout the winter at Valley Forge.
Taylor said these GIs were issued hardly anything by the fledging American government. For barracks, the soldiers dug out rectangular spaces about three feet below ground and then built a roof of logs, twigs, mud and anything else that they could find. Many of the soldiers were lacking shoes, clothing, and blankets.
For food, they ate mostly what was called fire cake, a mixture of meal, flour and maggots. When they did get a ration of meat it was usually rancid. Many of the GIs at Valley Forge died of smallpox and other diseases, or from malnutrition and exposure to the elements,” said Taylor.
“What is amazing is that these veterans of the American Revolution left military service and became American citizens all replete with successes, failures and ordinary lives,” he said. “That is what veterans do. Take pause to think about them today.”
Holland said servicemen and women give when giving may cost their life. These sacrifices can go unnoticed, but Veterans Day provides an opportunity for the heroes of our nation to be honored for the commitments they have made.
“Our military is the core of our freedom. I am incredibly thankful to the men and women who are and have served,” said Holland. “Lives are sacrificed so that we can live as we choose within the confines of the law.”
McCloskey said just like the fabric of the uniforms they’ve worn, and the insignias sewn on them, a common thread unites each of our country’s veterans, they dared to serve. Ho told those gathered that we pause on Veterans Day to salute all those who have made the choice to serve together.
“From basic training to combat missions, the trials and triumphs we experience together forge unique ties that last a lifetime,” he said. “They are ordinary Americans who were asked to do extraordinary things. On Memorial Day we salute those who paid the ultimate sacrifice; today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who served and were lost, those who returned to us, and those who serve today all over the world.”
Eight new names were added to the Veterans Honor Brick Walk after the ceremony in front of the HPD Station. Since the Honor Walk’s inception there have been 322 memorial bricks installed. There is space for 1,000 memorial bricks in total.
Contact Post Financial Officer Bill Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve an Honor Brick.
Veterans Day 2021 additions to the Honor Walk include:
Dan Snavely – Navy
Griffin B. Bell – Army
William “Bob” H. Reese – Army
Thomas “Greasy” Reese – Army
James G. Reese – Army
William “Bill” Reese – Army
Henry “Hank” Reese – Army
Gary Lynn Finley – Air Force
Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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