Veterans Day: A day of remembrance and honor

We set aside one special day of the year to remember those women and men that have served in the armed forces, ensuring our nation’s freedom. They served without question, being taken away from their jobs, homes, and families. On November 11, we pay tribute to that sacrifice.
    The large crowd, many  dressed in their Sunday best while others in camouflage from deer hunting, watched as a parade of veterans proceeded into the gym.
    Some moved slowly and used crutches or canes while others came striding in upright, but they all had one characteristic in common: a smile--a smile of pride and honor as they made their way to special reserved seats. Many were wearing hats or jackets identifying the branch of service they had served.
    After the colors were presented and the national anthem was sung by the choirs from Northern and Southern Elementary, Mr. Joe Buerkley opened the ceremony by introducing the first speaker. Commander Jim Sharp thanked all of those in attendance and stressed the importance of remembering our veterans.
    Sergeant David Priest, had an emotional reading of a poem about a soldier at Christmastime. It was very evident that many feelings were still present as these former soldiers were remembering their service and friends lost in war as the Sharp Middle School Choir presented a musical selection.
    Henry Bertram addressed the audience and spoke of PTSD and how it affects many soldiers still years after the completion of their service. He presented a visualization of many scenes he had witnessed firsthand arriving in Vietnam. At one point he called up another highly decorated veteran, Roy Mains, and discussed how each had faced different circumstances during their service. It was an intense presentation, leaving the listener wishing to say a personal thank you to each of these veterans.
    Lieutenant Commander CJ Warren enlightened the crowd about the Veteran’s plaques displayed at the high school. These plaques identify the graduates of Pendleton County that have served in the armed forces. The JROTC respectfully laid a wreath in remembrance. The Pendleton High School Band played through a military medley in which veterans of each branch stood to be recognized.
     Caitlyn Harris played Taps. The veterans stood erect with crisp salutes as the solemn notes reverberated around the gym. The thoughts and memories these women and men must have been having of lands and friends miles away as tears filled more than one eye.