WARSAW — VFW Post 1126 and American Legion Post 49 hosted the annual Veterans Day event at Center Lake Pavilion Monday, Nov. 11.
Salvation Army Community Ministries Director Ken Locke was the keynote speaker.
Locke noted that Veterans Day falls between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
“Some veterans live in haunted houses in their minds trying to shake horrific memories. We need to remember that. That’s why we support our veterans. That’s why we lift them up in prayer. That’s why we encourage them,” Locke said. “Because we don’t know what some of them have been through. The sad thing is, we’re told now that more than 20 veterans take their lives every day – and the reality is, that’s not the young veterans either — from what they’re saying, from the statistics, the majority of veterans who take their lives are age 50 or older.”
“The other holiday around Veterans Day is Thanksgiving. We have had many Thanksgivings in this nation when there were many empty chairs around the table. Can you imagine at the height of World War II, how many empty chairs there were at tables?” Locke said.
“At the height of Vietnam, how many empty chairs there were for Thanksgiving? And even now that we don’t see it as much, there are still homes coming up this Thanksgiving where there will be an empty chair at their table because one of their loved ones is serving somewhere around the world. We need to remember Thanksgiving isn’t just a day to eat turkey and watch football. It should also be a day where we get down on our knees and thank God for the blessings we have because of the veterans who have been willing to put their lives on the line and serve us.”
Locke ended his speech by saying, “If we don’t secure the freedoms we have and maintain the freedoms we have, they could be taken away in an instant. My challenge to each one of us today — in this country, as divided as we are right now — we need to get our act together, we need to come back together and we need to just keep coming and be Americans and continue securing liberty in this land as well as other places where we know we can make a difference and do good. That’s why we thank our veterans, because when we say that, they’re the ones who go and pay the price for what we have today.”
Locke presented Thomas Kinch, Warsaw, with the “Order of Kosciuszko” award. This award is given for exceptional service to God, country and others.
In 1967, Kinch was drafted to the US Army. He served in the Army Security Agency from 1967 – 1971. He spent two and a half years in Germany, then volunteered for duty in Vietnam. After one year in the Vietnam War, Kinch was honorably discharged from service in 1971.
Kinch is a lifetime member of the American Legion Post, VFW, DAV and the Forty and Eight. Since his retirement, Kinch volunteers his time as a driver through DAV Transportation Network, driving veterans to their appointments. The organization serves St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, Kosciusko and Whitley counties, offering rides free of charge to veterans who have appointments at VA facilities in Fort Wayne, Marion and Indianapolis. Kinch has also helped with Memorial Day services and other things “behind the scenes” that most people would not be aware of, Locke said.
John Sadler, president of McHatton-Sadler Funeral Chapels, presented the Meritorious Service award to the John C. Peterson Post 49 of the American Legion, named after the first Kosciusko County soldier to lay down his life for freedom. The organization was chartered in 1919. Post Commander John Mort accepted the award on behalf of Post 49. This award is presented to an individual or organization that has supported local veterans and their families above and beyond the call of duty.
The Meritorious Service Award was first awarded in 2012. Past recipients include the combined Honor Guard Post 49 of the American Legion and Post 1126 of the VFW, Oakwood Cemetery, Jordan Mayfield, Fred Vining, Russ Bauer, David Morales and Liberty Sewing Circle.
The Warsaw Community High School band, led by Band Director Mark Ziegler and Assistant Band Director Kyle Travis, performed at the event.