Colonial Beach once again came together to say thank you to service men and women Sunday at the Town Cannon in Colonial Beach.
VFW Post 10574, Colonial Beach hosted the annual event and a luncheon that followed at the Post on Hawthorn Street.
Mike Poreda, post president, welcomed everyone and began the ceremony. The Color Guard of Naval Cadets began the presentation of colors, facing the crowd with pride and dignity. The November sun shone behind the American Flag on the stage. The ever so gentle breeze stirred the flag as the crowd assembled quietly attentive.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all and Ms. Charlie Wilkerson stepped forward and sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Poreda then introduced Town Mayor Fred Rummage who gave a brief address. He quoted Winston Churchill and then recited a short poem. The many fraternal and military organizations present then placed their wreaths around the stage area.
The event’s keynote speaker, Captain Peter R. Nette, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac, then stepped to the microphone. He began by welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming. He spoke of the common bond among service men and women and the sacrifices they made.
“Those who understand the blessings of freedom must share the burden,” he said.
Searching over the assembly it was easy to spot the many veterans who connected with the Captain. Many wore caps that announced the ship they were on or the battalion they served, or simply what branch of the service . In his dress uniform the Captain struck an imposing figure. At the end of his speech he stepped back and Daniel Wise played the haunting melody of taps. In the stillness of the day by the beautiful Potomac even the seabirds seemed to grieve for those lost. Tim Burgess then gave the benediction.
It is interesting to note that many people don’t really understand this tradition. Some educators feel that history is under-taught. So what exactly is this holiday we celebrate and how did it come about?
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh month in the year 1918 an armistice or truce between Germany and the allied nations took effect effectively putting an end to World War 1. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November eleventh as Armistice Day, saying that the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”. It became a legal holiday on May 13th 1938. Although originally intended to honor veterans of WW1, World War 11 required the largest mobilization of troops in the history of the United States. The Korean War in 1950 was followed by Vietnam and as we well know, more wars to come. In 1954 , Armistice day was changed to Veterans Day in order to honor all our veterans regardless of where or when they served. It is a day mostly intended to honor and thank the veterans who are still living for their dedication and loyal service to their country. Colonial Beach and other communities gather on this day for this purpose. When you see a service person be ever mindful of the risks they face and the sacrifices. While this day is important, the job they do is done every day. Thank them, Thank God and God Bless America.