On this Veterans Day, just months after we lost more American heroes in the pullout from Afghanistan, the Chester community came together to honor all veterans, past and present.
Walton Engine and Hose Company did its usual fine job hosting the event and Ed Johnson, Navy vet and commander of American Legion Orange Blossom Post 1167, was the speaker.
‘We must remember .... We must appreciate them’
Here is a portion of his remarks:
“You can also show your support for these great men and women by hiring a veteran in your workplace, patronizing a veteran-owned business or donating to a veterans program. And you can simply thank them for their service.
”For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze in sub-zero temperatures, bake in wild jungles, lose limbs and, far too often, lose their lives.
“Military spouses have had to endure career interruptions, frequent changes of address and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities.
“Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title ‘veteran.’ Less than one half of one percent of our population currently serves. Yet some seem intent on trying to balance the federal budget by diminishing the quality of life programs designed for the families who have already disproportionately made these sacrifices.
“Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on earth. It is impossible to put a price on that.
“We must remember them. We must appreciate them.
“God bless you all for being here, God bless our veterans and God bless America.”
They put a lot on the line — not every year, but every day’
Members of the community, young and old, offered their reasons for attending the ceremony.
Carlie Cambria: “I’m with the Girl Scouts and it’s just really nice to celebrate the veterans and be able to hand out cards and cookies and to show them how we care.”
Deborah Hyseni was there with her daughter Anna, soon to be four. “I’m also the music teacher,” she said, “and it’s an honor to see my students play “Taps,” but also to be here every year and teach her the importance of being able to celebrate this and honor the veterans.”
Sarah Bailey said she was “here to celebrate Veterans Day and the people who served our country.”
County Executive Steve Neuhaus: “I am so happy to be here because this is my home town and I’m usually pushed all over the county. I really came here today to honor Veterans Day. My family’s here and my son is here as a Cub Scout; his first year in Cub Scouts. It’s wonderful to be part of the whole team here. You know, the firehouse hosts us and it’s just a great feeling and this is such an awesome community and I love being here.”
Betty Ann Reilly was present with her grandsons. Tyson Reilly, a freshman at Chester Academy, said, “I’m here to show my appreciation for the veterans for fighting for the country.”
His younger brother Cash Morgan Reilly added “Like Tyson, I’m here to show my appreciation.”
Heidi Schmidt, past president of the Chester Fire Department: “It’s important to honor our veterans who served our country. We don’t always remember the people who sacrificed for our country and people who are serving our country. They put a lot on the line. They see a lot and it’s important to remember them every year — not every year, but every day.”