[Photo: George Balch (at left) and John F. Harry, both Hoke County veterans, received honors at the ceremony held Saturday at City Hall in recognition of their hard work and many contributions to support other military veterans in the community and beyond.]
By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Veteran’s Day is “a day to celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good for all people in our nation and the world,” Clarance M. Lyons said.
Lyons, guest speaker at the “Vets for Vets and Community” Veterans Day service this past Saturday, was one of the many who turned out to mark the special occasion.
The service was driven indoors due to rain, but continued as planned with the ceremony held at Raeford City Hall. Lyons, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10, served as speaker for the event. He and others from local veterans organizations including Disabled American Veterans Chapter 17 and American Legion Post 20, joined in to mark the special occasion.
Lyons spoke of the creation of Veterans Day, tracing its origins to 1926 when Congress declared November 11 a legal holiday. The date should be remembered “with thanksgiving and prayer,” Lyons said.
Lyons also educated the attendees about the creation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. The VFW stretches as far back as 1899, after the Spanish-American War and other conflicts in the Pacific.
“When veterans of those conflicts returned home, many of them that arrived home were wounded and sick. There was no medical care for veterans. They were left to care for themselves,” Lyons said. “In their misery, some of those veterans banded together and formed organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service to our country. These local organizations merged in 1913 and began the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.”
While the VFW has done much for American veterans, there are still many needs that go unfulfilled even today, the speaker said.
“There are still far too many of us, too many veterans of recent conflicts, caring for themselves. Homeless, living on the streets of many U.S. cities and communities,” Lyons said. “Sick, or wounded, in various ways including physical and mental illnesses. As we honor those who served and defended our country, we must also protect and defend our country, its freedoms, and the veterans who once served our country. Please held defend and protect our vulnerable veterans by supporting the services needed to help them. Thank you for honoring our veterans today.”
Voice of Democracy essay contest participant Bella Kayser read her winning entry in the VFW-sponsored event. The contest offers a chance for a scholarship and to proceed to the national level.
The event included special award presentations to George Balch and John F. Harry, who both work with veterans’ organizations to support other veterans. Harry helped organize the events this week with “Vets for Vets and Community,” which also included a car show and live music at the airport Friday night.
VFW Commander Nocher offered the welcome and Deacon Ronald Scurry offered the invocation. The Hoke County High School JROTC posted the colors. Nocher led the pledge of allegiance to the flag and Kevin Nolan performed the national anthem.
The Hoke County Commissioners and staff, Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, Raeford City Council and staff, Raeford Police Department and the Parks department and staff helped make the event happen.
The day concluded with vendors and activities at McLauchlin Park following the ceremony.
[Photo: The Hoke County Honor Guard performed a three-volley salute and oversaw the playing of Taps during the Veterans Day event.]