Woodland service deals with history

Published 11:38 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Larry Schilling, of Ironton, snapped a photograph or two as the honor guard of Veterans of Foreign Wars 8850 readied for their service.

The insignia on his hat read “United States Air Force.” On this Veterans Day, this veteran had come to stand with neighbors and friends at Woodland Cemetery and honor all veterans, living and departed, acknowledge the sacrifices of a few for the freedom of many.

“I think about the fellows who served with me,” Schilling, a World War II veteran, said. “Some of them are dead now.”

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Master of ceremonies Louis Sheridan noted in his opening remarks that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, in observance of the ending of World War I on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. Sheridan read remarks from VFW Commander-in-Chief Glen M. Gardner, who wrote that Veterans Day is becoming an increasingly forgotten holiday, with fewer and fewer people remembering why we celebrate it.

“With the percentage of citizens who have worn a uniform rapidly declining, appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans is correspondingly diminishing,” Gardner wrote in the November issue of VFW magazine. Gardner urged VFW members to educate others about what the day means and why it is observed.

“The 23.8 million veterans living in America deserve recognition. It is often forgotten that legislative battles were waged over this day and its earlier version called Armistice Day in 1926, 1938, 1954 and throughout the ’70s. Let’s not take its value for granted.”

In his invocation, the Rev. Eric Barnes thanked God “so much for all who have served and all who gave their lives for this cause.”

As vocalist Susan Taylor sang The National Anthem and “God Bless America,” some of the 30 or so who gathered quietly sang along or hummed as she sang.

Sheridan noted after the ceremony that for the VFW honor guard, their service to their country continues to this day: the honor guard would leave the Veterans Day ceremony and give the 19-gun salute at the grave of a departed soldier, Clifford Vanderhoof, who was being buried Tuesday in Woodland Cemetery.