On Their Day, BVA Celebrates All Veterans
Blinded veterans and their families remembered their fellow veterans
from all eras of service and walks of life during regional group
activities, ceremonies, parades, receptions, and meal gatherings at
homes, businesses, and restaurants throughout the country.
The November 11, 2014 events were frequently highlighted by a moment
of silence at the arrival of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th
month commemorating the signing of the Armistice ending the First World
In Washington, DC, BVA National President Mark Cornell attended a White
House breakfast hosted by Vice President Joe Biden. Two short hours
later, at precisely 11 a.m., he witnessed a Vice Presidential wreath
laying at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns in
summer-like temperatures that also included Joint Force
Headquarters-National Capital Region/U.S. Army Military District of
Washington Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan.
Mark sat center stage with other Veterans Service Organization
National Commanders and National Presidents at the traditional ceremony
in the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater. BVA Director of District 3 Pete
Davis and National Field Service Program Director Ed Eckroth carried
the American and BVA flags, respectively, down the amphitheater ramp
during an awe-inspiring Parade of Colors to open the event.
Speakers at the ceremony included Ron Hope, National President of the
Disabled American Veterans. DAV served as this year’s host organization
representing the Veterans Day National Committee. Other speakers were
newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald and Vice
President Joe Biden. The music was provided by “The President’s Own”
United States Marine Corps Band.
“Less than one percent of America’s population serves in the military
but more than 99 percent of Americans owe that one percent so much more
than we could ever repay,” said Biden. “You are not only the heart and
soul, but you are the very spine of this nation, and we have an
obligation to care for and equip those who we send to war and care for
them and their families when they come home—it is the only sacred
obligation a government has.”
Following the ceremony Mark and Executive Director Al Avina presented
the BVA wreath at the same Tomb of the Unknowns. They were joined by two
guests of BVA—British blinded veteran Harvey Godber and his son, David.
Harvey, a member of Blind Veterans UK, learned about BVA in the United
Kingdom through Colin Williamson, one of the key figures behind the
overall success of the joint initiative Project Gemini now implemented
with a trip to the United Kingdom each spring.
Following the wreath presentation, the BVA contingency attended a
DAV-hosted reception at the Women in Military Service for America
Memorial just outside the main gates of the cemetery.