Veterans Day is a day when we pause as a nation to reflect and give thanks to the service members who have served in all branches of the armed forces, in the name of freedom.
Sunday morning, thanks was given in the form of a service held by the American Legion John C. Peterson Post 49 at Warsaw’s Center Lake Pavilion. Moving renditions of patriotic favorites were provided by the Warsaw Community High School Band as part of the ceremonies.
But thanks takes many forms. From school bands performing patriotic songs, to free meals served by various organizations and restaurants.
In a moving speech honoring veterans who have given their lives from the birth of this nation to the most recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, David Beall, U.S. Army veteran and Legion member, said not every veteran receives the thanks he or she deserves.
“It’s tragic that the men and women that allow us to be safe in our homes have no homes of themselves when they shed the uniform,” said Beall. “One out of every four homeless persons is a veteran. Nine out of 10 of them are honorably discharged. That’s hardly what you can call the thanks of a grateful nation.”
Homelessness effects veterans everywhere. American Legion Post 49 currently provides services to 21 homeless veterans – men and women – in Kosciusko and Marshall counties. Countless other veterans face underemployment and unemployment.
“While fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the honorable title of U.S. Military veteran, this special group often provides vital services that enable our communities to function,” added Beall. “If you surveyed the Warsaw Police Department or the fire department, you’d find that a disproportional high amount of their members are veterans.”
To pay respects, the American Legion performed traditional observances dating back to World War I. The Tolling of the Bells took place both at the park pavilion and the county dourthouse to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, formerly known as Armistice Day. Those in attendance faced east, toward Washington, D.C., and more respectively Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of those who have fallen in combat.
The program honored local veteran and Post 49 Commander Roy Bradbury with the awarding of the Order of Kosciuszko award, given for honorable discharge and exceptional service to fellow veterans and the community. Also honored were the members of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guards and their unwavering support of veteran funerals, regardless of membership status.
The event ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps, followed by a lunch for Legion members, where they were presented with letters of thanks from Mrs. Swihart’s first-grade class at Madison Elementary School.