Hundreds gather to honor veterans

Students from the Wabash Middle School fill Hill Street in front of the Wabash County Courthouse. Photos by Joseph Slacian

By Joseph Slacian

Students from the Wabash Middle School were among the more than 300 people in attendance at the Wabash County Veterans Day ceremony at the Wabash County Courthouse.

Those attending heard comments from the commanders of the Wabash American Legion and VFW posts, as well as remarks from Mayor Scott Long, and letters from Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.

Long, a U.S. Army veteran, spoke about how Veterans Day came about. It was created at 11 a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when Germany signed the treaty ending World War I.

Armistice Day, as it had been known, was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

“As a veteran of the United States Army myself … we veterans go about our daily jobs without much thought to our service in the Armed Forces,” he said. “Once a year we are reminded in November when Veterans Day is celebrated.

“Veterans are around us every day, running small businesses, large corporations or continuing to serve in government service. But you wouldn’t know it because a veteran isn’t likely blowing his or her own horn. We veterans are humble about our military service. Veterans are quietly proud of their time served.”

Walorski’s representative Chris Lee read the letter from the congresswoman.

“On Veterans Day, our nation reflects on the debt we earned while the brave men and women who have served in uniform to keep our nation safe and free,” he said. “To all our veterans, I say thank you for your service and thank you for honoring the call when your country needed you.”

Wabash County Veterans Service Officer Sam Daugherty spoke briefly about what he has learned in the year that he has been in office.

“I didn’t understand the term veteran until well after I retired,” he said. “I was always active duty and didn’t know the difference.

“I didn’t know the struggles when you come home. I didn’t know the PTSD. I didn’t know the other issues, the physical ailments of running around a perfectly good track for 22 years.”

He also noted that, for 35 years, young men faced the question of whether to be drafted or whether to enlist in the military. However, today the U.S. military is an all-voluntary organization.

“What that means is we have the greatest military in the world, yet we’re an all voluntary service,” he continued.  “We don’t have to make people join our service; they want to.”

Daugherty also read the letter from Donnelly.

“In Indiana we have over 500,000 veterans who represent our state, and to each of them we send our deepest appreciation,” he said. “This Veterans Day I urge you to take a moment to let the veterans in our lives and our communities know how much you appreciate them and what they’ve done for our country.

“Their service and sacrifice have allowed each and every one of use to live peacefully.”

Long and VFW Post 286 Commander Herb Mullen each expressed gratitude to the Wabash Middle School staff who arranged for the school’s students to attend the ceremony.

“We decided it would be a great idea to bring the kids down to honor the veterans in person,” WMS Principal Mike Mattern said. “It allowed them to see the community process and the community program and it gave a chance for our students to be involved.”

Roxy Stoner, representing the Wabash American Legion Auxiliary Unit 15, and VFW Unit 286 President Kerrie Hannigan laid wreaths at the Wabash County War Memorial.

The VFW rifle team fired a gun salute after which the flag was lowered to half staff and Bonnie Truss played “Taps.”

Posted on 2016 Nov 15