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Honoring those who served

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Veterans' Day ceremonies honor soldiers past and present

By Calen McKinney

 

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The seasoned soldiers stand at attention, uniforms pressed, some just out of the military and others who served decades ago.

The crowd, on their feet, is there to honor those who served, young and old, and to never forget what they sacrificed so that all Americans can be free.

Taylor County residents came together this weekend, specifically during events on Saturday and Monday, during a ceremony to open a veteran artifact exhibit and the community's annual ceremony to honor its veterans, respectively.

On Saturday, local veterans and their family members attended the opening ceremony for "Reflection on Heroes from Past Wars" exhibit at Edwards-O'Banion American Legion Post 82.

The exhibit, which ended Monday, featured rare artifacts from many wars and was created in honor of the legion's 85th anniversary.

During Saturday's ceremony, Steve Orr, adjutant/finance officer for the American Legion, said the exhibit is the result of the vision and work by Brenda Philpott and Linda Collins.

"And the reality of that dream is all around," he said. "We're here to honor some of our nation's heroes."

State Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, said the events and exhibit are to show appreciation to veterans and their families. She said she is glad to live in a nation where people can gather and say thanks for those who served.

"They're true American heroes," she said.

Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said veterans are often forgotten.

"We forget these that made their country peaceful for each and every one of us here today," he said. "And if you see a veteran ... give them a handshake, thank them for what they're doing."

Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said some veterans don't like to discuss their service, but their dedication is beyond what their country can repay to them. And most veterans don't expect anything in return, they just serve their country.

" ... Without any expectation of rewards. They did it because they love their country," he said.

"Thank you for your effort, your sacrifice, your example that people like me can learn from."

Robert Bryant, who serves as commander for the state American Legion, said there are more than 1.6 million women today who serve in the military. He said he and other legion members are working to see those women get the care they need after they come home.

Pat Reynolds, who oversees the state legion auxiliary, said the history on display is truly amazing.

"And it's because of the veterans that it's here," she said.

Veterans Day, which was Monday, is set aside each year to remember those who have served.

"To me, Veterans Day is every day of the year," Reynolds said. "Because without them, we wouldn't be here."

Bill Moore, a veteran who serves with the national Internal Affairs Commission, asked to whom people owe their freedom. He said he believes the answer is God and veterans.

When a veteran serves his or her country, Moore said, they are saying, "I am willing to lay down my life for my country because I love my country more than myself.

"I can assure you, no one on the face of the earth hates war more than those who have to serve it."

He asked when Americans will see the end of war and quoted Plato, who said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

"What is the price of war?" he asked. "Look at the flag-draped caskets.

"I can tell you, the cost of any part of war is never over until the last person in that war is dead," Moore said. "The only thing that is worse than war is a nation that believes there is nothing to go to war over."

More than 200 people attended Monday's ceremony, which veterans Bill Perkins and Bobby Baker planned. Campbellsville Middle School fourth- through six-grade choir performed and American Legion members placed flowers on the Taylor County War Memorial. A new American flag was hung on the flagpole.

Young told the crowd that he believes few people can imagine what serving in war is like and Americans should be thankful for the day to honor those who do.

"Our veterans unselfishly sacrificed, paving the way for our freedom."

Rogers told the crowd that veterans often give up the chance to grow old or be parents and grandparents. He said veterans often sacrifice their lives.

"A life that should have been able to play its full course," he said.

He read a poem that his wife, Theresia, wrote to honor veterans. She wrote that veterans could be anyone people meet.

"He deserves so much more than we could ever pay," she wrote. "He protected your freedom and my freedom."

State Rep. John "Bam" Carney, R-Campbellsville, said he doesn't need a dictionary to define the word "hero."

"My definition of 'hero' is simply a veteran," he said. "I'm so proud to be in a community that appreciates and celebrates our veterans."

That means the price those veterans paid will never be forgotten, Carney said.

Gregory told the crowd, "The cost of freedom is high. Freedom's not free."

And Bryant told the audience they can always support veterans, not just on Veterans Day.

"You can show your support by simply saying 'thank you' to the next veteran you meet."