From a frigid field in Valley Forge to a bloody beach in Normandy, United States soldiers have been fighting to protect America for over 240 years.
Military veterans were honored Thursday at the Senior Center in the first of many Veterans Day programs taking place in Warren County through Monday.
U.S. Army veteran George Patterson read a powerful piece attributed to Ted Nugent called “Taking A Knee.” It says in part:
“Take a little trip to Valley Forge in January. Hold a musket ball in your fingers and imagine it piercing your flesh and breaking a bone or two. … Then take a knee on the beach in Normandy where man after American man stormed the beach, even as the one in front of him was shot to pieces, the very sea stained with American blood.”
It continues, “No cheerleaders, no announcers, no coaches, no fans, just American men and women delivering the real fight against those who chose to harm us, blazing a path so you would have the right to take a knee.”
At the start of the program, Senior Center board chair Dennis Kronlage noted the number of empty seats from veterans who are no longer with us.
“Over this past year, we’ve lost 86 veterans,” said Kronlage, who later read the names of those who had died.
U.S. Air Force veteran Margie Anderson was introduced as the first female keynote speaker in the history of the Senior Center Veterans Day program. She noted this Nov. 11 will be the 100-year anniversary since the end of World War I in 1918. The holiday, originally recognized as Armistice Day, was changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
Anderson said that thanking a veteran for their service might seem like a small gesture for some, but she said kind words can make a lasting impact.
“It is American veterans who make the world much safer,” said Anderson.
She noted veterans have a higher rate of homelessness than those who have not been in the service and said a military career is like none other.
“Military service is not life in the private sector,” said Anderson.
“Most jobs don’t put you in immediate danger. Most civilians can live where they want and choose other career options when they want. Most people don’t face charges for disobeying their boss.”
Lewis Wiseman, 93, was recognized as the oldest veteran in attendance. He went to school at Fairview and graduated from Irving College. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1948 to 1969.
“It was 21 good years of service,” said Wiseman. “I went all over the world and got out of a couple of tight spots.”
The Standard has been made aware of Veterans Day programs Friday, Sunday and Monday.