Recognizing Veterans’ Day 2023, Bosque County honors the men and women who served our country in several different ceremonies around the area
"Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met” – Korean War Veterans Memorial
Besides politics, sometimes it takes a military force to protect a nation, its freedoms and its ideals. And with the loss of life and other sacrifices that takes, we can only say “Freedom is not free.” It is often soldiers and their families that pay the price. Veterans Day Nov. 11 serves to honor those who made sacrifices for a greater cause, those that put God, home and country before themselves.
Across Bosque County, different ceremonies honored those that served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. This Veterans Day marks the 105th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. On Nov. 11, 1918, the European Allies signed an agreement with Germany that ended all hostilities on the Western Front.
On Nov. 10, the day started with “A Salute to Our Veterans” assembly at the Iredell Independent School District’s C.H. Mims Gymnasium. National Honor Society members Gracie Benitez, Payton Murphy, Geordan Shively, Caibry Dunn, Kyle Keel and Eliza Guereca thanked school mates, friends, family and especially the veterans present for coming to their assembly. Westen Chandler welcomed attendees with a program as they entered the gymnasium.
The students gave some history on Veterans Day, welcomed the fourth grade to lead in the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and to welcome special guests.
The highlight of the ceremony was the slide show with photos, military branch and their years of service of nearly 50 Iredell veterans, young and old; all who served the nation in the Armed Forces. Veteran Wayne Lancaster, veteran and Iredell Volunteer Fire Department volunteer shared his experienced in peace time military. During his service he was able to visit several different states and abroad, which enriched his view of the world in general.
“People thank us for our service,” Lancaster said. “But we want to thank you all for your support too. We can’t do what we do without that.”
Before he passed away in 2020, impactful author and Vietnam veteran Mike Burns wrote three books profiling his Bosque County Vietnam Veterans. It was his goal to help his brothers in arms by getting them to talk about their experiences with him, because many did not talk to their families. Not only did talking about their experiences help heal themselves, the books also provided their families a greater understanding of what “their” veteran might be going through, physically, mentally and emotionally.
As Burns’ widow, Valerie continues her late husband’s mission and shared how especially Vietnam Veterans are still in a healing process regarding their roles in an often-publically denounced war on the other side of the world, because of the horrors of the guerilla war they experienced, but also the humiliation and ridicule they faced on returning home.
“I believe Iraq/Iran and Kuwait conflicts helped reinstate being a veteran as an honorable title in this country,” Valerie said, commenting on the increased appreciation of veterans and their sacrifices in the past decades.
Valerie’s friend Susan Frazier shared a poem “Late Love” she wrote about her journey to understanding a veteran’s role in the country’s peace and the fight for democracy better.
“No thought about war and a land far away. The road that you traveled never entered my mind. And I wasn’t thinking. Not about you,” the poem reads. But it ends with “So now with a broken heart, I’m thinking of you. And I finally see, it’s all about you and not about me.”
Frazier also informed the veterans present on the “Forever Young” program which honors their past, healing for their present and hope for their future. The organization sponsors trips to battlefields, memorials and special wishes for veterans 65 years and older.
A bugler playing Taps originated as the signal to extinguish barracks’ lights. The uniquely U.S. military call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services. Meridian ISD’s Noah Smith played Taps as the perfect ending to Iredell ISD’s salute to veterans, and as a tribute to whose lights were permanently dimmed in the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
That same day, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Bosque River Valley chapter also brought friends, family, local officials together in a tribute to county veterans, thanking them for their service to their community, nation and the world.
“We are here to Celebrate America, and to honor our veterans whose vigilance continues to preserve our liberty in these United States of America,” BRV DAR Honorary Chapter Regent Sue Fielden said in her welcome.”No one desires peace more than the soldier. But, equally their family members desire peace. War is costly. Freedom is not free. We must be mindful of the sacrifices of our military and their families.”
In a program filled with many marked and memorable musical moments, presenting of the colors and the military branch flags by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 322 and American Legion Post 8553 by local veterans enhanced a special ceremony for all that filled the Clifton Independent School District’s Performance Arts Center.
Along with the patriotic “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “Proud to be an American,” Brian Barrett performed his original song “That Uniform” which was created especially for the Veterans’ Day Tribute several years ago. He was inspired by his great-uncle’s an old WWII army uniform, found in the attic of their home.
In support of veterans, Andrea Wallum gave an update on the Bosque County Veterans Memorial – a lot has been accomplished in the past two years, with a deposit made for the different monuments for the Armed Forces branches. But Wallum expects it to be several years before everything is paid for and constructed. Fundraisers like a gun raffle are held on a regular basis, including the ongoing commemorative bricks.
Kathy Harr spoke on the Wreaths Across America December 16, encouraging people to sponsor one of the 750 wreaths to be laid in one of the three Clifton cemeteries she represents. She was happy to see the engagement of the youth in Veterans Day activities – earlier that day, the Clifton Elementary School honors choir presented patriotic songs to their school – because the WAA mission is to remember those fallen, honor those serving and educate next generations on the importance of honoring the country’s military personnel.
At the DAR ceremony, the several members of the Clifton High School band performed the National Anthem. Other guest speakers were Lt.Col. Bob Flood U.S. Army Reserves, ret. who spoke on the activities of the local AL post and the national Suicide and Crisis help line 988, ext. 1, because of the high suicide rate among veterans. Cpt. Ricky Richards, Civil Engineer Corps U.S. Navy, ret. spoke on the activities of the VFW post. He also mentioned that there are more soldiers lost to suicide that those lost in the Iraq/Iran war. Both the AL and VFW serve as a safe place for veterans to socialize with those who experienced similar situations when in the service.
And on Nov. 11, veterans were honored with the Star-Spangled Banners in the Iredell Field of Flags. On Monday, Nov. 14, both the Clifton High School and Walnut Springs ISD honored local veterans with similar ceremonies.
The words of Mike Wilson’s song, sum up the general sentiment of the different ceremonies succinctly “If you love your country, thank a vet. If you cherish freedom, thank a vet. For the price they paid, for the sacrifice they made. If you love your country, thank a vet. They gave us the best years of their youth to protect the red, white, and blue. Whether land or air or on the sea, they defend our liberty.”
Thank you, veterans, and all those serving in the military. Thank you for your service.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
©2023 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.