Honoring their service
Published 4:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2015
Dozens gathered at Bicentennial Park in Troy on Wednesday to fellowship with veterans and their families during a ceremony to honor the men and women who have served in the military.
“We live in the greatest country in the world, and [veterans] know that because they have seen everywhere else,” said Troy Mayor Jason Reeves. “And with all the problems we feel like we have here, and we certainly do, we still live in the greatest country in the world. And it is the greatest country in the world because of our veterans. We owe a special thanks to them today and every day. Every day is truly Veterans Day.”
Mark Sullivan, from the state Veterans Administration, spoke about the origin of Veterans Day and what a true veteran is.
Sullivan reminded everyone that President Woodrow Wilson first named the day Armistice Day in 1919, an official day that would be remembered.
“Several hundred thousand people fought in World War I,” Sullivan said “A number of people came back from the war with no support, no Veterans Administration, no special hospitals to care for their injuries, came back to a country totally unprepared for them to return. It was an amazing transition for those men to come back here and have to fend for themselves.”
Overtime, it eventually became a national holiday.
In 1954, the holiday was changed to honor all veterans because, by this time, there were veterans from World War II and the Korean War.
“Korean veterans are some of the most forgotten veterans in our country, and they are great veterans,” Sullivan said. “They have hearts of gold and souls of steel, and they are some of the best of the best, the greatest of their generation.”
Sullivan then went on to describe what it means to be a veteran, explaining that the federal government has defined “veteran,” but he sees it differently.
“‘Veteran’ is defined by law as somebody who has honorably served in the naval, air or land service of the United States,” Sullivan said. “So the federal government has taken it upon itself to define what a veteran is … The hardest job of anybody dealing with a veteran is a spouse and the immediate family … It’s not always about whether you were in combat or not.”
Sullivan said that that United States citizens should be doing more to honor and support veterans. It takes more than places a yellow ribbon as a bumper sticker on a car or donating spare change at the store.
“If you see a veteran, ask if there is something you can do to help,” Sullivan said. “If you know family of a veteran, ask if there is something you can do to help.”
The flags surrounding Bicentennial Park each represent a life from Pike County that has been sacrificed in service. Three more flags were placed to honor William Franklin Berry, Curtis Allen McVey Sr. and Robert Edward Nunnelee.
One way to honor the lives sacrificed in service, Sullivan said, is to live a good life. “You have an obligation to live the best life you are capable of living,” Sullivan said. “That obligation goes to our brothers and sisters who did not return.”