Veterans’ Day — Nov. 11. Local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion members (and auxiliaries and friends) once again honored the dead. But they also reminded one another of why they should feel proud that they’d served themselves, and took the opportunity to express their gratitude to U.S. military personnel on active duty around the world today.
At VFW Mason-Dixon Post 7234 (Quillen’s Point), Post Commander Joe Domanski recognized the veterans in attendance and those still fighting for the “cause of freedom, and the promise of peace.”
“It’s important that we gather to pay tribute to the men and women who served our country, and expose our children and grandchildren to the sacrifices others have made to make this the strongest, greatest nation in the history of the world,” Domanski stated.
He recognized the new generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, saying anyone who risked life’s most precious gift — life itself — deserved a little honor.
Domanski offered the quote from founding father George Washington — “the willingness of future generations to serve in our military will be directly dependent upon how we have treated those who have served in the past.”
Ladies Auxiliary President Ruth Marvel read a poem and Sussex County Council Member George Cole said a few words.
He and Council Members Dale Dukes and Lynn Rogers had all served in the National Guard, Cole pointed out, and he reflected on changes there over the years.
For instance, he remembered the National Guardsmen posted at the street ends during the legendary “Storm of ’62,” and those on watch in Wilmington at the height of the civil rights movement.
The National Guard hadn’t received much respect from the other branches of the military back then, Cole said. But that started to change after the nation moved toward an all-volunteer military, in 1973 — and now, National Guardsmen are increasingly serving overseas, and for longer stretches, he pointed out.
Many more were based around the U.S., putting in their weekends, their two weeks a year, he added. But whether active or on reserve, Cole said, very few of them ever mentioned their service to the country — and that was typical, for veterans.
“We have 47 veterans working for council, and lot of them are very quiet about it,” he said. “You never realize they’re veterans — they just go about their business. And I imagine it’s the same in every organization, in all our towns and businesses.”
Ocean View Mayor Gary Meredith sent out a thank-you, for veterans’ service and sacrifices throughout the years. Military personnel in Iraq were facing a kind of war the U.S. had never found itself involved in before, Meredith pointed out, offering a prayer for everyone’s safe return.
(On a side note, he thanked Post 7234 for supporting the Building Fund Committee for the Coastal Leisure Center, located just down the street, through the Post’s spaghetti dinners, etc.)
Past Post Commander Lou Kubicki reminded those in attendance that the freedom Americans enjoy is an extremely special one — one best preserved by a willingness to exercise the right to vote, and to speak out against injustices, to make sure everyone enjoyed the benefits of that freedom.
Domanski called attention to budget constraints threatening the Indian River School District’s JROTC program, and asked his audience to consider attending this month’s school board meeting (Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., Indian River High School) to lend the program their support.
He presented a $1,000 donation, on behalf of Post 7234 to Marine Corps JROTC cadet Tracy Truitt. As Domanski pointed out, the cadets might or might not pursue military careers but JROTC is valuable in its own right for developing leadership skills.
Later in the day, at American Legion Post 24 in Dagsboro, Post Commander Dennis Daniels echoed Domanski’s comments. He asked everyone in attendance to write letters or talk to people who might be able to help keep the JROTC program going.