Stand and salute: Veterans lauded for service to nation

DOVER — Men and women from all branches of the United States Armed Forces received proud salutes and were thanked for their service at Veterans Day ceremonies scattered throughout Delaware on Friday afternoon.

Col. D. Scott “Bull” Durham, the commander of the 512th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command associate wing located at Dover Air Force Base, served as keynote speaker at a Veterans Day event hosted by Chapter 850 Vietnam Veterans of America at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park.

Col. Durham told the wind-whipped crowd gathered at the monument park located at 760 South Little Creek Road that it is the people – not the technology or machinery – that make America’s military great.

“You represent a fundamental truth and that truth is that it’s not the powerful weapons that make our military the greatest military in the world,” Col. Durham said. “It’s not the sophisticated aircraft, the great aircraft carriers, the submarines, the missiles, the rockets, the satellites, new cyber warriors or the technology to make us the most and the best military in the world.

Korean War veteran, Bill Richardson, right, and Veterans Outreach Chaplin, Mike Snyder salute.

Korean War veteran, Bill Richardson, right, and Veterans Outreach Chaplain, Mike Snyder salute (Delaware State News/Marc Clery).

“The true strength of our military is the spirit and skill or our airmen, our soldiers, our sailors and our marines.”

That much was obvious just glancing at the dedication and loyalty of the veterans who were gathered, some now with canes and some in wheelchairs, but still strong nonetheless.

During the Chapter 850 Vietnam Veterans of America Veterans Day ceremony, six wreaths were placed around the monuments at the park in remembrance of past conflicts.

Malcolm Foster, 93, of Lincoln, was among WW II veterans recognized.

Malcolm Foster, 93, of Lincoln, was among WW II veterans recognized. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Event emcee Dave Skocik, a VVA Life Member, Chapter 850 and president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition, recited the names of Kent County veterans who were killed during conflicts in Vietnam, Korea and the Middle East. A bell was rung after the reading of each name.

Veterans Day is a holiday that honors all military veterans and is celebrated on the anniversary of the end of World War I, when major hostilities of the war were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The United States previously observed that date as Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation: “In order to insure proper and wide spread observation of this anniversary, all Veteran’s organizations and all citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”

Col. Durham noted it takes a special person to sign up to serve in the military.

“Whether you served one day, 10 years or 30 years, whether you volunteered or whether you were drafted, all of you made a conscious decision to commit your life and the lives of your family members to be a part of the greater good, to don the military uniform of your service and serve our nation,” he said.

“Veterans are recognized as men and women who have or are currently serving in America’s Armed Forces. Today, Veterans Day is a celebration to honor all of American’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

The Veterans Day ceremony concluded with “Taps” played by Jim Frazier and “Amazing Grace,” performed by the Dover Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.

Big news regarding homeless veterans

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said he got the opportunity to join Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jack Markell and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper at the War Memorial in making an announcement at the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Friday morning.

“We were all fortunate enough to announce that an initiative started by first lady Michelle Obama has finally reached a major goal and Delaware has become the third state in the nation to end veterans’ homelessness,” Mayor Christiansen said.

He gave the bulk of the credit for the success of his Mayor’s Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness campaign to Bill Farley, chairman of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs.
“I signed the paperwork and he was my field general,” said Mayor Christiansen, referring to Mr. Farley.

“In the last two years we’ve identified 484 homeless veterans,” Mr. Farley said. “We’ve housed 415 of them — and that’s permanent housing, not shelters. The rest of those veterans are in programs to give them a place to live a stable life.

“But the important part of this initiative was that we’ve established programs in Delaware that are going to continue. This isn’t a one shot deal. We’ve established programs at the federal, state and local levels throughout Delaware now so that we can truly say that there’s no reason for any veteran to be homeless in Delaware – none.”

Mayor Christiansen said the issue of veterans’ homelessness is something he takes personally and said should never happen.

“It really bothered me when I found out how many veterans were homeless and living in their streets, in their cars … and their families were also homeless with them,” he said. “It’s unconscionable in a nation so great as this.

“We can send billions of dollars overseas to take care of people who don’t care about us, but we can’t take care of our own … and it will never, ever happen again thanks to people like Bill Farley.”

Mr. Farley said the veterans’ homelessness plan is not foolproof and there will still be some issues that arise, but tremendous strides have been made.

“That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some veterans who lose a job and lose a house, but we are now is a situation where we can help them and if they end up with a housing crisis, it doesn’t have to be permanent and it doesn’t have to be very long,” Mr. Farley said. “The people of Delaware have done the job.”

Veterans Day Parade on tap today

A Veterans Day parade will march down Loockerman Street at 10 this morning to honor the states’ veterans for their service.

The Delaware General Assembly, in conjunction with the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, the Delaware National Guard, the City of Dover and the State Veterans’ Organizations, are putting on the event.

The parade will begin on the west side of Dover, move east along Loockerman Street, turn right onto Federal Street and end at the Legislative Mall.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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