Storms do not stop service

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Storm clouds hung heavy over Memorial Stadium at the eleventh hour on Monday as a crowd gathered to honor our nation’s veterans. The mood was somber as a color guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3016 took its place facing a stone monument dedicated to Dallas County soldiers who served in World War I.

American Legion member James G. Smith, second vice commander, took to the podium and slowly read out a list of organizations who were to lay wreaths at the base of the monument. Representatives from the Student Government Associations of Meadowview Christian School and Central Christian Academy, VFW Post No. 3016 and Legion Post No. 20 all took their turns placing red and white wreaths in honor of all those who have ever served in America’s military.

Smith then introduced Lt. Col. John Creswell, a member of the Alabama National Guard. As the camouflage-clad Creswell approached the podium a silence descended on the crowd and he began to speak.

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Creswell explained that the reason Veterans Day was instituted was because of the armistice after WWI.

Back then people believed it was &uot;the war to end all wars,&uot; as Creswell quoted, but we were soon to learn different.

President Wilson created Armistice Day, it’s original name, in 1919 to recognize the armistice that ended WWI in 1918. During the 1970s the day was observed on the fourth Monday of October, but was changed to November 11th in 1978.

Creswell also spoke about the increased importance of America’s military since the September 11th attacks.

America should also be thankful for our youth in the military, stated Creswell, because we no longer have a draft and our armed forces are completely volunteer.

Smith then introduced the next speaker, Jim Burrows, who had been invited to speak by VFW Post No. 3016. Burrows said that if you look in the dictionary you’ll find that the word &uot;veteran&uot; is used for many professions: lawmakers and sports players to name a few. But the original meaning of the word, he added, is &uot;one who has been a member of the armed forces.&uot; These are the people that have been in a position to pay the ultimate price for ensuring our freedom, he stated.

Burrows, however, didn’t want people to forget those veterans who never stepped foot on foreign soil. There are many soldiers who man our garrisons and keep our homeland safe, he stated, and they should be honored just the same.

The ceremony ended with a prayer by Chris Owens, minister of music at Westwood Baptist Church.

As the crowd slowly drifted back to their cars and began to drive away, Smith looked towards Memorial Stadium and explained what Veterans Day meant to him.

Above, the gray clouds hung heavy and unchanged.