Veterans celebrate pride in patriotism

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

JACKSON – At the base of the courthouse steps in Jackson, a peaceful wind rustled through the leaves as the brave heroes who served this great nation gathered together for a time of remembrance this Veterans Day.

The audience, an intricately woven fabric of patriotism represented by servicemen from every branch, turned their faces towards the wooden podium back-dropped by three empty flag poles and awaited the words of fellow Army Veteran Chuck Youse, Director of Veterans affairs for Northampton County.

Sun light danced about on the face of the vet, as the silence was broken with the heart-felt words, &uot;Good morning. I would like to take a moment to recognize the special groups, county employees and others who served in various branches of the armed forces. When you hear your branch of service, would you please stand.&uot;

With his voice resonating through the autumn air, proud servicemen from each facet stood proudly to attention as they heard him say, &uot;National Guard, Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp, Coast Guard. Today is your day.&uot;

Youse addressed his fellow veterans saying, &uot;We come together, as if drawn by a magnet. We bring with us memories of good times and crazy things and to catch up with old friends, but we also come, some of us, with remembrances of bitterly cold nights at the Battle of the Bulge and unrelenting heat and sand storms in Operation Desert Storm or Operation Iraqui Freedom or sadly, memories of those whose faces we cannot forget who have paid the ultimate price with their lives.

&uot;Vets don’t take life for granted. They know that duty and sacrifice are not just words. They know the faces of those who lived them and gave their all to defend the freedom of this great land.&uot;

Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent gave an invocation as the platform was yielded to him. Thanking God for the day and asking Him to bless the events thereof, he closed his prayer and turned his attention to Sergeant Major John Byrum, Junior ROTC instructor at Northampton County High School East and his cadets for the raising of the flags.

&uot;Attention…&uot; The cadets took formation, marching in time with ‘colors’ in hand, unfolding history, heritage and freedom as they unfurled the flags of the county, the state, the nation, prisoners of war and those missing in action (POWMIA).

Chairwoman Virginia Spruill of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, accompanied by Third District Commander VFW in North Carolina Steve Jackson and ROTC cadet Chris Buffaloe from NCHS East placed a wreath of remembrance at the base of the memorial beneath the flags and recited the pledge. &uot;I pledge allegiance to the flag…one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.&uot;

Then the cadets turned to obey their familiar Sergeant Major’s order, &uot;Attention,&uot; turned and marched out of view and as Cadet Samantha Parker finished her final stanza of the National Anthem, Youse continued to speak.

&uot;Soldiers live out patriotism, idealism and servanthood, and each of us is better for it. Black, White, Asian, hundreds of variations and combinations served side by side, regardless of race, creed or religion. They’re all still Americans. Every one reached a point in their lives where unity was paramount. It was the American spirit.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once stated, ‘The feeling came over me that the expression of the United States of America would now and henceforth mean something different than it had ever meant before. From here on it would be the nation I would be serving, rather than myself.’&uot;

He also quoted John Stewart Mills saying, ‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of morale and patriotic feeling, which thinks nothing is worth war, is much worse.’&uot;

In a later conversation he shared the remaining part of that quote which states, ‘A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free.’

He continued his presentation saying, &uot;Our leaders knew that the military would be the rampart by which America would defend its freedom, but a true soldier never welcomes war. We fight because it is necessary. Forty-two million have served since the Revolution, many losing their lives. The price is high, but the heart of America is freedom and we choose to remember the sacrifice, service, duty, injury and death. Only fools would elect to forget such a valuable lesson.&uot;

Youse also mentioned that the WWII Veterans Memorial in the nation’s capitol would be opened to the vets before the formal unveiling on May 29, to allow vets that may not be able to make it to the big event to see it.

&uot;The trip that is planned has been a county-wide effort,&uot; said Youse. &uot;We are truly grateful and the vets are grateful.&uot;

After the event, Jackson stated, &uot;It was beautiful. Events like these are necessary for vets because a lot of times they feel forgotten or slighted. They are still patriotic and ceremonies, like this, boost their spirits and energize them making them feel good.

It allows them a place where they feel like they can contribute again and it serves as continual healing process for many. It is good to remember.&uot;

During the event, Youse recited a piercing poem by an unknown author. He stated,

&uot;It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion. It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to assemble. It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the veteran, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag.&uot;

He continued, &uot;Let us seek out our veterans, see what they have to say, celebrate all those who served and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless you, God bless the vets and God bless America.&uot;

The event closed with a benediction by Sheriff Vincent and Youse thanked the building and grounds crews for their help in setting up the event and making it possible; but before he could step away from the podium, a voice rang out in the crowd, &uot;We forgot to sing ‘America the Beautiful!’ Humbled more by their patriotic spirit than his own oversight, Youse led the crowd in an emotional tribute to our nation, as a unison of voices resounded with a special dignity and pride.

Youse closed by saying, &uot;On behalf on everyone, thank you.&uot;

Northampton County Manager, a veteran himself stated, &uot;I was proud to be a part of this ceremony.

As always, our veterans director, Chuck Youse, conducted the ceremony with professionalism and respect to all veterans, particularly Northampton County veterans, for which we owe a special debt in helping protect our freedom.&uot;

If you would like to contribute to the WWII trip fund, the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department will be holding a raffle for a 25′ color TV, microwave and DVD/VCR for $1 per chance. Contact them for details.