Published 11:04 am Thursday, November 12, 2009
The cold November wind whipped across Soldiers Plot at Woodland Cemetery at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, beating the American flags that decorated each grave into a soft military tattoo.
It was the traditional Veterans Day ceremony by the VFW Post 8850 Honor Guard that marks the date the Germans signed the Armistice ending the War to End All Wars in 1918.
But to those few in attendance, the ceremony meant far more than the casual recognition of a date in history.
“This is to honor all who have served,” Louie Sheridan, past commander of the Ironton post, told the audience. Those who have died in battle or “have raised their hand to swear allegiance to this great nation.”
Standing at attention in their maroon jackets and dress caps, the Honor Guard lined up by the graves of their fellow soldiers, quiet, respectful, somber.
On signal, those seven men shifted their rifles to their shoulders to fire off the three volleys that are known as the 21-gun salute.
That salute is one of the highest and most visible honors the military can bestow.
As the smoke cleared, a lone bugler played the mournful refrain of Taps before those attending went back to their cars and their daily routine.
After the ceremony, Sheridan talked more about the importance of the day that the brief ceremony commemorated.
“It honors all who serve,” he said. “Memorial Day is for those who have perished on the battle field. Veterans Day is to honor those still with us.”
Beverly Pinkerman was one of the handful watching the ceremony. Her father, Carl Stewart, is buried in Soldiers Plot because he heard the call to duty during the Korean War.
Her husband, Philip Pinkerman, was in the honor guard Wednesday morning.
Pinkerman was 5 when her mother first brought her to the Woodland ceremony, now a tradition for her, which she shared with her daughter-in-law, Deanna Preston.
“I think they have forgotten,” Pinkerman said about the lack of those at the ceremony. “They have forgotten who the vet is.”