STEVENSVILLE — Both Kent Island American Legion Post 278 in Stevensville and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7464 in Grasonville held Veterans Day observances Monday morning, Nov. 11. Both ceremonies began at 11 a.m.
At the KI American Legion, 1st Vice Commander Nikki Randolph conducted the solemn ceremony, reading the national American Legion message sent to all American Legions across the country with sincere conviction.
She read about three honored military heroes who went beyond the norm to serve their comrades. Quoting U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing an infantry unit pinned downed by machine gun fire in the second battle of Fallujah during the Iraq War, “You see people doing these things for each other that they would never, ever do in any other circumstance — it’s a sight to see,” Randolph read, “Though Bellavia’s valor is exceptional even amongst the extraordinary, his mindset is common within the women and men who serve our great nation. His story is one story of the millions of living veterans.
“Army Pfc. Monica Lin Brown was a combat medic assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division when she was deployed to Afghanistan. A roadside bomb tore through her convoy, wounding five soldiers. The 19-year-old Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield her wounded comrades. Her bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat. Brown became the first woman to earn the Silver Star in Afghanistan and just the second woman to do so since World War II,” Randolph continued.
“When news got out that a Vietnam War veteran had no living relatives to attend his funeral, the veteran community was there,” she said. “Friends of Wayne Wilson had put out a call for people to come to his burial service in Niles, Michigan, and expected only a handful of people to attend. They underestimated the power of the American Legion — three thousand people showed up to pay their respects.
“These are only three stories — from millions out there to be told and heard. Before you leave today, find someone here and ask them to tell you their story. Every single woman and man who raised their right hand and pledged to give their life for their country, if needed, did so for a reason. Ask them why?”
Before the ceremony ended, Randolph, who spent much of the past weekend placing small American flags at veterans’ graves in the immediate area, added a personal message, “At this moment, to all of our Vietnam War veterans, please step forward and allow us to reiterate how proud we are of your service to this country. On behalf of all of us today, thank you, but most importantly, welcome home.”
Randolph presented each of the Vietnam veterans with the official Vietnam Veteran pin and a cap which read, “Vietnam Veteran, Welcome Home.”
The sentiments expressed at VFW Post 7464 in Grasonville were much the same. Chaplain Rick Hagman took a moment to read the names of Post members who have passed away in the last 12 months, which included: Oscar “Sonny” Schulz, George Gould, Doug Wallace, Ted Satielmair, “Snake” Roberts, Edward Bennett, Henry Sieradeke, Bob Frew, Kelly Cohee, Irene Bryan and Norman Cotton. A bell was rung once as each name was read aloud.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Stevensville Middle School hosted a Veterans Day assembly, as schools in the county were closed on Monday. Local veterans had the opportunity to come to the school and share their personal stories of service to our nation with the children and answer the students’ questions about their service. Following the classroom discussions, the entire student body gathered in the gymnasium for the assembly honoring all veterans for their service.