TROY — The community and veterans gathered on Nov. 11 to honor those who have served and to remember those who did not come home.
Ron Pennybacker of VFW Post 5436 gave the opening marks and introductions, which included recognizing Mayor Michael Beamish and members of council who were present. Robert Speck then gave the invocation.
10-year-old Allison Bushre and her mother were recognized for having come seven and a half hours from Illinois before Bushre performed the National Anthem.
Beamish started his remarks by talking about the definition of the word veteran. Literally, it means old soldier, although Beamish said he didn’t necessarily agree with the age requirement. Webster’s dictionary, however, goes a little further when defining a patriot.
“A patriot is defined as one who loves his or her country and supports the authority and the interest of that country,” he said. “You know I look at veterans and we say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’ But they’re true patriots that protect our freedoms throughout this world.”
He said veterans carried a special pride because of their sacrifice through commitment and love of country. Beamish said living in a country that is free offers citizens a set of privileges, as well as responsibilities such as voting, and reminded the audience that without veterans being willing to protect those freedoms, they would not be here.
Troy City Council Member Brock Heath was keynote speaker. Heath, a Marine Infantry veteran with three deployments under his boots, led the crowd in recognizing veterans from all the branches of the military.
In his speech, Heath explained how veterans think a little differently than other people. He started by saying all veterans appreciate a thank you for their service, and that while post-9/11 America is more grateful and friendly for veterans, the environment is still very different from the wars many of the veterans and the country faced.
“Back in World War II, we were in a total war,” he said. “Anybody my generation or younger, we have no idea what that feels like. We were talking about every human being having to do their part, or else we might have lost the war. It was total war, and once the veterans started coming back, they were not pitied, they were not spat on. They were true heroes.”
Heath said that Vietnam took a turn for the worse as far as how soldiers returning from war were treated, and now, there is more support for veterans but there is still a divide in understanding, which leads to pity for returning soldiers. He said the culture now is nowhere near Vietnam, but nonetheless it is important to not take any steps backward.
“That’s a dangerous thing for a veteran coming back,” he said. “When you’re going and defending your country, and you overcome an enemy … understand that we enjoy protecting the country, and so when we come back and when we feel pity in someone’s voice or in their mannerism, we question whether we should enjoy that (overcoming an enemy). Rather than say to them when they come back, ‘I’m sorry that’s what you had to go through,’ say to them ‘I’m proud of what you did over there.’”
Heath said he believed there were three main reasons that the United States was great: God, the Founding Fathers having courage, and the veterans themselves.
The Troy High School Band performed service hymns, followed by Ed Wagner and Bonnie McKee of VFW Post 5436 laying the wreath at Old Soldiers Circle.
The Veterans Memorial Honor Guard gave the 21-gun salute, followed by the high school band performing taps.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.