Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2017

County residents honor veterans

Veteran says peace seems like a far-off dream
Nov 13, 2017
Photo by: Brooks Taylor Henry County hosted its Veterans Day observance Nov. 11 at Vets Hall in Mt. Pleasant. The program featured speakers from the county veterans organizations as well as the Henry County Honor Guard shooting three volleys. One of the speakers was Dave McGregor of New London. A large crowd packed Vets Hall for the event. A Mt. Pleasant High School chorus, under the direction of Marlene DePriest sang the National Anthem and another patriotic song.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News

 

As Henry County residents paused on Nov. 11 to honor military veterans, Darla King said the battles are far from over.

King, commander of the Mt. Pleasant AMVETS post, told a large crowd at Vets Hall that there is no “foreseeable end to the hostilities. The battles and wars rage on. Peace seems like a far-off dream.”

She said that every year as Veterans Day approaches, it reminds her of the sacrifices made by the veterans and their families.

“No veterans went in there thinking it would be easy and every veteran has a story. These people came out changed. … These veterans witnessed a lot of change and for some, the battle rages on.”

King reflected that Saturday’s observance was a stark contrast from the first Armistice Day in 1919 which was an observance of the end of World War I. “We honored veterans (in 1919) on a day war ended and the hope of peace existed.”

Richard Schaffer, commander of the Mt. Pleasant VFW chapter, said veterans have carried the torch to this day.

With most World War II and Korean War veterans gone, that torch has been passed to Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans, and Dean King, a Vietnam veteran, is gratified to see Vietnam veterans finally receiving the gratitude they deserve.

“Veterans didn’t have a good reputation after the Vietnam War,” King reflected. “There was such euphoria after World War II, and Vietnam was a letdown. Now it is like the Vietnam veterans have to forgive the nation for its treatment. It wasn’t the fault of the soldiers, but of the politicians.”

He said the climate began changing after Desert Storm in the early 1990s. “Then Vietnam veterans began sweeping their military service under the carpet and melding in with other veterans and society.”

He also noted the military has changed, transforming to more intelligence and technology. “Look, we’ve been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq for 15 years and there have been 6,000 casualties. That’s far less than we had in World War II, which was a much shorter war.”

Robert VanDerSnick of Mt. Pleasant, another Vietnam veteran, noticed the climate has changed, too, not only toward Vietnam veterans but all veterans.

“Look at the crowd we had today, there were only a few empty chairs,” he said. “It was very nice, and I was pleased with the crowd.”

He, too, said the appreciation for veterans is continually growing in the United States. “I believe that the military getting on the front page has really helped,” he claimed, noting that today restaurants and churches are offering free meals and veterans receive a discount at many businesses.

“Years ago, there was nothing like this,” recalled VanDerSnick. “I think it is nice that we are on the front page because it brings attention.”

Another welcomed change is the building of veterans memorials in communities, he noted.

VanDerSnick said the only negative is the declining membership in veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. “We really can’t do much about that. The Vietnam generation doesn’t seem to be joiners, but there were a lot of World War II vets who never stepped into Vets Hall either.”

As previously mentioned, Veterans Day began as Armistice Day in 1919. In 1926, Armistice Day became an annual celebration. Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Dean King noted the difference between Veterans and Memorial Day is that the service of all veterans is celebrated on Veterans Day while Memorial Day honors those military personnel who died while in service.

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