Post 102 honors America’s heroes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

AHOSKIE – They came in all shape and sizes n three grown men, each revealing material proof they fought in the Korean War, all the way down to a pair of adolescent sisters, their long blonde hair and miniature American flags blowing in a stiff breeze.

So it was on a bright, sunny morning in Ahoskie where individuals took time from a carefree weekend to salute the brave men and women who have fought, and sometimes died, to protect the freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy today.

American Legion Post 102 hosted their annual salute to Veteran’s Day on Saturday, first with a parade down Ahoskie’s Main Street followed by a traditional 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month ceremony at No Man’s Land Park.

“We know that the freedom enjoyed by this great country, our beloved America, has been and always will be defended through the sacrifices of America’s brave men and women in our Armed Forces,” said Rev. William Reid, a retired military veteran who serves as Chaplain for Post 102.

Reid, the event’s featured speaker, continued, “A grateful nation appreciates your past, present and future sacrifices to preserve the freedom of America.”

Rev. Reid then answered his own question n who is a veteran?

He described Marine Sgt. Scott C. Montoya as a veteran, who despite a hail of enemy gunfire was able to drag a wounded Iraqi civilian to safety and then returned to the April 8, 2005 battle to rescue four of his comrades in arms.

He said a veteran is a POW or MIA who went away from home and family, never to return.

Reid referred to National Guard medic “Doc” Collier of Arkansas as a veteran. On Oct. 3, 2004, Collier was killed in action as he rendered aid to a fallen comrade.

He said Sgt. Major Johnnie Farmer of Post 102 and a current Hertford County Commissioner was a veteran, saying he had to live with the memory of a horrific scene while serving in Vietnam.

Rev. Reid said a veteran was Sgt. John Mizelle of Post 102 who, despite being exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, always has a smile on his face and joy in his heart, even though with a missing leg and other health problems.

“Some veterans bear visible signs of their service n a missing limb, or no limbs at all; bound to wheelchairs,” Reid said. “Some have jagged scars all over their bodies. Some suffer from Agent Orange and from post stress syndrome disorder.”

He added that all across America, there will be thousands of homes that have empty seats at the dinner table this holiday season where tears overcome family members as they remember those currently fighting on foreign soil.

“Yes, these are our veterans,” Rev. Reid closed. “They are standing here with us today, all proud to be Americans and, if they had to, would defend our flag and our nation today against our enemies.”

Post 102 Commander Herbert Lassiter presided over the ceremony.

“We salute all veterans for what they have done for this great nation,” Lassiter said.

In a special Veteran’s Day tribute, several members of local Boy Scout Troop #135 performed a flag folding ceremony while the meaning of each fold was revealed.

Post 102 Ladies Auxiliary member Linda Meeks also paid a special tribute to veterans as she read, “The Soldier.”