Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Government buildings may have been closed Monday, but the Dorchester County Human Services Building was buzzing with life at 10:30 a.m. as nearly 150 people gathered outside to honor local veterans and their sacrifices.
Eight veterans organizations participated in the annual Summerville Veterans Day ceremony this year, including the primary sponsor, the U.S. Submarine Veterans, Inc., Charleston Base.
“Freedom is not free,” said event organizer Ed Burns, a retired Air Force colonel and Dorchester County Veteran Affairs officer. “Our veterans and their families are the ones who pay the price.”
The ceremony included a performance of the National Anthem, taps, and Amazing Grace, in addition to a keynote speech by retired Navy Capt. Russell A. “Rusty” Pickett.
Pickett summarized the holiday – a day to commemorate American service members – with inspiring stories of honored veterans from all branches of the military.
He referenced the Presidential Proclamation issued last week, which stated, “Through the generations, [service members’] courage and sacrifice have allowed our Republic to flourish. And today, a Nation acknowledges its profound debt of gratitude to the patriots who’ve kept it whole.”
Pickett also spoke of his visit to the American St. Laurent Cemetery in France, which has 9,387 military graves, mostly from D-Day.
“These are Americans who are veterans and gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Upon Pickett’s conclusion, Roger Gibson and Gerry Farr placed a wreath on the military monument in front of the building, followed by three shots from a firing squad.
As the veterans marched with the wreath, a bell was tolled 11 times to signify the end of combat in World War II, which ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Starting in 1919, Nov. 11 has been since been known as Armistice Day, and later, Veterans Day.
Before retiring the colors, Burns urged attendees to remember the veterans who’ve put their lives on the line for the country they have sworn to serve.
“Take a minute to pause and think of a veteran who’s made a difference in your life and thank that person,” he said. “Thank you again for coming, thank you to all of our veterans, and God bless America.”