BY MILO TAIBI
“The war on terrorism is not going to go away, but you can fight it every single day by living your life exactly how your family members fought and died to preserve that freedom,” said LCDR Steven “Andy” Frye of the U.S. Coast Guard, beginning the 2014 Veterans Day Ceremony at the Fort Hamilton Army Base.
Veterans, current servicemembers, family members and the general public alike gathered Friday, November 7 to honor members of the U.S. military through an afternoon of ceremonies recognizing the sacrifice of U.S. veterans.
Featured speakers at the event included Howard Dunn of the U.S. Navy (who served in World War II), Donald Feldman of the U.S. Army (who served in the Korean War), Ruben Pratts of the U.S. Marines (who served in Vietnam), Captain Diane Precil of the U.S. Air Force (who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom), and Frye (served in War on Terrorism).
The speakers delivered harrowing stories about their time in service, gave their thoughts on the significance of military service during times of war, and commended fellow servicemembers for their work.
“War is hell, regardless of which war it is,” said Pratts, following a speech about his experience in Vietnam. “I served my nation as did everyone else (in this room)…We earned our freedom.”
The afternoon began with a rendition of the National Anthem, sung by SFC Constance Campbell of the U.S. Army. Following this performance, Chaplain Eric Meyners led the invocation, and SFC George Hernandez of the U.S. Army performed Taps on trumpet. The solemn and reflective tone of the event was indicative of the nature of Veterans Day- a celebration introduced as “a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m.”
Veterans and active military servicemen in attendance acknowledged the importance of honoring veterans, both past and present. Michael Stinnett of the U.S. Army, and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, expounded on this idea, explaining how conditions of warfare have changed over the generations (daily phone calls home, for example, are a luxury afforded to current servicemen but not those who served in Vietnam, the Korean War, etc.).
“It is extremely important to commemorate veterans, especially as the number of soldiers enlisting is shrinking year-by-year,” Stinnett said. “These events are a good forum to recognize those who have served in the armed forces. Everyone here has shared moments, experiences and taken steps to defend this country.”