Commentary: Veterans display leadership, perseverance

“From this day, to the ending of the world.
We in it shall be remembered.
We few, we lucky few, we band of brothers.
For he who today sheds his blood with me,
shall be my brother.”

— William Shakespeare’s “Henry V”

Whether at Lexington, Gettysburg, the Argonne Forest, Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East or conflicts before, during and afterward, veterans are people we count on to serve when called, whether active duty or “weekend warrior.” Their sacrifice of time and talent may also result in injury or even death.

They are examples of leadership, guts and perseverance for our youth. They become teachers, coaches and volunteers. They start businesses, become community leaders and raise money for causes. More than anyone, they appreciate our nation and its freedom. They stand for the flag and often tear up at the national anthem.

They come in all sizes and genders, and their values are consistent through generations. Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II, was initially denied entry into several branches of the military because he was only 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 112 pounds.

Dave Skocik

Some of the honored veterans who have spoken at our annual Veterans Day ceremonies in Dover during the past 11 years include retired Army Col. Mary Johnson of Dover’s Chick-fil-A, who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and was awarded two Bronze Star medals.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 member, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jon Reynolds, endured torture and deprivation for seven years and 76 days in North Vietnam. He later earned a doctorate and taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the University of Delaware and Wesley College.

The late Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, former adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, was a decorated 5,000-hour command pilot who served seven tours across the globe, which included 400 combat hours, in addition to being an airline pilot with American Airlines.

Chuck Baldwin, chairman of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, served as command master chief aboard the USS Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, where he was top enlisted leader for 5,000 sailors. In 2003, he co-founded Wilmington’s Delaware Military Academy and later advised Clayton’s First State Military Academy.

Every veteran has a story to share. World War II Special Forces Marine Richardson C. Tritt recently celebrated his 100th birthday in Dover. “I would do it all over again,” said Mr. Tritt, who later served as a teacher and coach in Greenwood and Smyrna during a 38-year career.

Regardless of generation, we have a duty to honor and recognize their devotion as they endure family separations and fight on for their fellow soldier, airman or Marine — and for all of us.

Whether a seasoned veteran or the 18-year-old on his or her first assignment to a hostile environment, let’s keep faith with them by holding them in our thoughts and prayers — as well as in our legislation — to ease the burden on them and their families.

Dave Skocik is a Vietnam veteran and military retiree who lives in Dover.

Editor’s note: Impending weather has caused the Veterans Day ceremony to be moved to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover.