Honoring and Remembering America’s Veterans
Depending on where they live, their health, and what their commitments were that day, BVA members and their families undoubtedly spent Veterans Day 2007 in a myriad of diverse activities and ceremonies of remembrance in venues throughout the country.
Graphic design of the 2007 VA Veterans Day National Committee theme,
including the annual poster and program cover for the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Just five miles from BVA National Headquarters, National President Jones, Director of District 4 Dale Stamper, and blinded serviceman John Crabtree placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Marshell Crabtree, Dianne Jones, Executive Director Tom Miller, Convention Coordinator Christina Hitchcock, and Communications Coordinator Stuart Nelson observed the proceedings.
The wreath laying followed the traditional national ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater featuring music by the U.S. Army Band, introduction of guests by Brigadier General Pete Dawkins (Ret.), and welcoming remarks by both National Commandant of the Marine Corps League John V. Ryan and Acting VA Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who also presented a wreath at the Tomb prior to the ceremony, delivered the main address, extolling past and present members of the Armed Forces and their families for their sacrifices.
“Gathered as we are today in time of war, we’re only more sharply aware of the nation’s debt to them,” he said.
“They are constantly in our thoughts. Our gratitude extends to their loved ones, because military service is often a family commitment, and they, too, are giving up much for the good of our whole nation.”
Present for the ceremony was 106-year-old Frank W. Buckles, one of three known surviving U.S. World War I veterans. Earlier in the day, Buckles was presented the Patrick Henry Medallion during an annual ceremony organized by the Military Order of the World Wars to remember World War I General John J. Pershing. That ceremony was held at Pershing’s Arlington gravesite. Buckles enlisted in the Army on August 14, 1917 at age 16 after falsely claiming that the state of Missouri did not print birth certificates at the time he was born.
Following the ceremony and wreath laying, BVA’s eight-member contingency attended a Marine Corps League-hosted reception for VSOs at the nearby Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel.
A Day of Memory
By Paul Cook
Softly and gently the dawn comes
Pushing aside the darkness of night
Announcing the coming of the new day.
The first light of the rising sun
Reflects its rays of golden light
On a field of white crosses, where beneath them lay
The perished hopes and dreams
Of dedicated men and women who died
To keep alive man’s struggle to be free.
Now in this setting, peaceful and serene,
Come those who shared these dreams, some cry
As a grateful nation sets aside this day in their memory.
The morning sky, now a familiar blue
Dotted here and there with white clouds that hang high
Above this field as the warm sun shines.
Here where wild daisies and goldenrods grew
Now grow white crosses one-foot high
That stand side-by-side in countless lines.
The tears that fall nurture the ground
Making the grass a perennial green
Going unnoticed by those who see
Only white crosses, as the bugles sound,
Putting to rest the hopes and dreams
That seem to come alive on this day of memory.
Paul Cook is a visually impaired World War II veteran from Littleton, Colorado. He served in the Combat Corps of Engineers in the Pacific Theater and began painting and writing poetry several years ago when bedridden with a cardiac condition and hampered by macular degeneration. “A Day of Memory” was submitted by Pamela Newton, Paul’s VIST Coordinator within the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System.
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