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Archive for Thursday, November 12, 1998

YOUNG, OLD REMEMBER VETS WITH CEREMONY

November 12, 1998

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Veterans Day was important enough for young and old to stop and remember.

Wednesday's Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 852 was pretty much like the ceremonies held on Nov. 11 every year.

There were speeches by Mayor Marty Kennedy and Bill Venohr, with the Kansas University Navy ROTC.

There was a flag-folding demonstration and a lecture by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.

There was a 21-gun salute, a bugle rendition of Taps and a buffet-style meal.

But 80-year-old William Loehr came anyway. He came despite the fact he must use a wheelchair and had to arrange for a driver to pick him up.

So did 51-year-old Charles Hawkins, who normally comes with his father, but brought his son this year instead.

And so did 110 fifth-graders from Quail Run School, though their teachers had to get permission slips signed and coordinate bus service.

The day, the 80th anniversary of the end of World War I, was important enough to those people and about 100 more who had to traverse hardened dirt roads to get to the VFW hall because of construction in the area.

They took the time to, as VFW Commander Tom Meek put it, "say to all the veterans, `We are a grateful country and we appreciate your sacrifices.'"

The event was sponsored jointly by the VFW, American Legion Post No. 14 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 22.

The routine of the schedule didn't diminish the ceremony's importance. It is the sameness that made it special, made it mean something. Almost every person in the room spoke the words of the Pledge of Allegiance and almost every person in the room sang the words of "God Bless America."

The effect touched deep emotions in many, including Leonard Monroe, 67, who served in both Korea and Vietnam.

"A lot of guys died for Old Glory," he said.

Leo Langlois, commander of American Legion Post 14 and an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, said Veterans Day seemed to be attracting more attention this year than it has in recent years.

"I think this year there's been an effort to identify more with veterans," Langlois said. "It's welcome, that's for sure."

Yet the crowd was half retirees, half students and very few in between.

A lone representative of his age group was 21-year-old Jacob Hawkins.

Hawkins said a lot of his peers get too wrapped up in their own lives to stop for Veterans Day.

Hawkins came in part because his father and grandfather are both veterans.

"By coming out, it shows them I respect them and honor what they did and honor all the veterans for their service to the country," Hawkins said.

Langlois said Hawkins is an exception among young people.

"I don't know that any of them know the significance of Nov. 11," he said.

But that was far from the truth to hear some of the visiting fifth-graders, who were invited to attend the ceremony.

Veterans Day, said Emily Knight, 10, was to remember the people who fought for this country and "just to help us think more of what happened."

Classmate Mike Vaughan said, "It's to thank all the people that died for our country and ... showed lots of courage to join the Army and fight."

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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