Moment of silence for Fort Hood victims part Veterans Day events
By Scott Jenkins
Duty and sacrifice.
Powerful words. But to those who’ve served in the U.S. Armed Forces, speakers said at a Veterans Day program at the W.G. Bill Hefner VA Medical Center, they equal a choice, a lifestyle, a dedication to protecting this nation and preserving its freedoms.
“Veterans know that duty and sacrifice are more than words,” said Maj. Queen E. Williams, keynote speaker at Wednesday’s program.
Before addressing veterans and their family members assembled in a social room at the VA Medical Center, Williams, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force and JROTC instructor at Salisbury High School, asked them to honor some who will never attend such a gathering. Heads bowed, they observed 30 seconds of silence for the victims of last week’s shooting at Fort Hood. Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan is accused of the shooting rampage that killed 13 and left 29 wounded.
Earlier on the rainy, blustery day that caused the annual Veterans Day parade to be canceled, members of the Rowan County Veterans Council laid a wreath at the National Cemetery on Government Road.
Williams noted that among those remembered in such ceremonies are service men and women who “have had to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Every week, in a solemn ceremony, another is laid to rest, even here in Salisbury.”
But as important as memorializing those who lost their lives in service to the nation, she said, is thanking those who gave their lifetimes, including those who continue serving their communities and fellow veterans after their military careers.
And, she said, it was a time to honor the men and women answering the call of duty today.
“We have young men and women who are still willing, in the middle of two wars, to say ‘I swear,’ ” Williams said. “They’re willing to defend that flag.”
Carolyn Adams, director of the VA Medical Center, said she and others at the hospital count it not a duty “but truly a privilege” to serve veterans, and not only those who have fought in wars, “but all who took the solemn oath. … All of them served and all of them deserve our gratitude.”
The Veterans Council bestowed awards to several people at the program. They are:
– Hercules Shannon, of American Legion Post 107 in Salisbury, was named Veteran of the Year.
– Harold Anderson, American Legion Post 342 in Salisbury, Chaplain of the Year.
– Elaine Howle, American Legion Post 185 in China Grove, Service Officer of the Year.
The Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard presented and retired the colors. Martha Corriher of American Legion Post 146 Auxiliary sang the national anthem. Gary Gulledge, chaplain with American Legion Post 327 gave the invocation. Homer Robertson, president of the Veterans Council, was master of ceremonies.
Some who attended the program Wednesday wore the uniforms of their youth; others came in civilian clothes but stood draped in the pride of serving their country, in whatever branch they rendered that service.
“It doesn’t matter what uniform you wear … because when we put on these uniforms, we represent the United States of America,” Williams said. “We represent the freedoms of the United States of America.”
Veterans have stood up for the nation, she said. They have fought for those freedoms.
They have done their duty. “Each of us is better because of a veteran,” she said, “and so is America.”