Veterans honored in Dover

AMC Museum volunteer Jon Andrews recognizing distinguished guests at Saturday’s Veterans Day celebration. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Hundreds came out for ceremonies Saturday to honor the men and women who have served in the military name of the United States of America over the centuries.

The Air Mobility Command Museum hosted an event in the morning, with retired Army Col. Bob Leicht as the featured speaker.

A few hours later people braved the cold to gather at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park and hear from retired Army Lt. Col. Mary Johnson.

“We’re a small group, about 1 percent of the population, but each represents a story of personal sacrifice, service, honor and integrity,” Delaware Veterans Coalition President Dave Skocik said.

Around 0.5 percent of the U.S. population is in the military, a sharp decline from World War II, when more than 10 percent of Americans served. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as of two years ago nearly 74,000 Delawareans had served in the armed forces since the Revolutionary War.

The Milford Community Band performing at the Veterans Day Celebration Saturday at the Air Mobility Command Museum. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Thanks to Dover Air Force Base, the military presence in Kent County remains strong, but some veterans feel many people are ignorant of the trials faced by the men and women who serve.

“Gone are the days when the larger culture was aware the nation is at war,” said Mr. Leitch, who spoke surrounded by airplanes in the museum’s main room.

Among the people present at the AMC Museum ceremony was Janet Heath, whose late father, Alvin, served in World War II, flying missions from the United Kingdom to Germany.

He visited the museum several years ago and was “amazed” upon learning one of the airplanes on display was more than just the same model as the craft he flew — it was the very same C-47A Skytrain, Ms. Heath said.

Lorraine Steinhoff, flanked by members of the Dover Air Force Base color guard, as she sang the National Anthem Saturday. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Celebrated for the first time as an annual holiday in the United States in 1919 on the first anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, Veterans Day was initially known as Armistice Day, a name still used in some countries. It was renamed in 1954 and today honors all servicemembers.

“Veterans are special,” Ms. Johnson said. “The world has changed tremendously since the first Veterans Day was established, but the values of veterans remain constant. We sacrifice.

“We all raised our right hands and took the oath to defend the greatest countries in the world against enemies both foreign and domestic. We submitted ourselves to something that was greater than ourselves.”

Veterans gather at the AMC Museum Saturday for Veterans Day services. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Dozens of veterans, a few wearing their decades-old military uniforms, attended each ceremony, and emotion was in the air.

Veterans Day is “our special day,” Vietnam Veterans of America Kent County Chapter 850 President Joe Startt Jr. said, and Ms. Johnson spoke of the nation owing all veterans a debt.

Serving in the military may not be easy, but those who do share a special bond, several people said.

“I’d do it all over again,” Mr. Leicht said.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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