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Honoring our veterans: The debt we owe
They stood at attention, and snapped sharp salutes as soon as the American flag began its descent down the pole at the Arbuckle Golf Club.
More than 20 veterans attended the brief Veterans Day event, honoring those like themselves who served, and remembering those who sacrificed so much.
The moment was appropriately defined in a poem written by Norman Carless and read to the gathering by Kerry Reckers, a member of the American Legion, who emceed the event.
They shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We shall remember them.
It was the 17th annual event at the golf course, after which members and guests played a tournament used to raise money for the veterans groups.
"I never missed this since they started," said Wayne Hampshire of Williams.
World War II had just ended when he was sent to Austria as part of an engineers unit. He still vividly remembers the overwhelming destruction the war left behind.
"I've always been really happy I did spend time in the service," said Hampshire. "It was an honor."
Sunday marked the 94th Veterans Day.
Established as Armistice Day in 1918, it was rededicated as Veterans Day by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. In addition to the lone formal event held in the county, American flags lined the streets of most of the communities, and could be seen in virtually all neighborhoods.
A day that noted the end of World War I, the "war to end all wars," has become a day to remember those who have served, and to remember there may never be a war to end all wars.
Anastasia Azevedo, a Maxwell High sophomore, sang the national anthem.
Following the flag ceremony, a rifle team comprised of seven members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars fired off three volleys. Ron Simmons of Williams then played "Taps."
The tune was written by a Confederate soldier.
A Union officer, hearing the cries of a wounded soldier during a battle in the Civil War, crawled out to get the soldier, only to find it was his son, who had been studying music in the South and had joined the Confederate Army.
He died as his father dragged him to back to camp.
The Union officer had hoped to give his son a military funeral, but because of his status as the enemy, was only allowed to select one musician to play some notes that were found with the dead soldier.
The officer chose the bugler.
It has become a somber ending to many veteran ceremonies, a tribute to those who have fallen, and a reminder who enjoy the benefits of that sacrifice.