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‘Heroism’: Groups urge support for veterans

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WAKE FOREST — At a Veterans Day ceremony Monday that was a mixture of somber and celebratory, local civic groups honored the sacrifice of America’s uniformed service members.

Dozens of veterans, their family members and local residents attended the ceremony, organized by the Walter E. Cole American Legion Post 187. It featured prayers, moments of silence and speakers who recognized the service of military members from the past 243 years.

“Most Americans profess to truly love our veterans, especially at gatherings like this on Veterans Day and Memorial Day,” said Mark Dwyer, commander of Post 187. “While their feelings are usually sincere, it is important to remember that veterans are defending us 365 days a year. The heroism that has been demonstrated time and again by veterans from the American Revolution to the global war on terrorism is sometimes unnoticed by those who enjoy the security their sacrifice has provided.”

Later in the ceremony, the audience observed two minutes of silence while Dwyer and Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones placed a wreath to remember veterans who died in the line of duty. Ron Anderson played taps during that portion of the ceremony.

Other local veteran civic groups participated at the ceremony, which was held at the Wake Forest Veterans’ Memorial at 11 a.m. Among those groups were the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Rolling Thunder.

Debora Godfrey, president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 187, spoke about the role women soldiers played in each of America’s wars.

“I feel that a women’s service to her country is quite often overlooked,” Godfrey said, adding her own mother served in the Marine Corps but downplayed her role.

“At that time the male veterans organization at home told her her place was in the auxiliary, and being a true Marine, she told them what they could do with their organization,” Godfrey added, drawing laughter.

Lu Ann Spain, president of the local Rolling Thunder chapter, told the crowd to remember the “many who did not come home.” At the memorial was an empty table and chair that symbolized the absence of veterans missing in action or who were prisoners of war.

The posting of the national colors was done by the Wake Forest High School JROTC. Post 198’s chaplain, Stephen Haffly, led an invocation and benediction.

Toward the end of the ceremony, the crowd recognized all World War II and Korean War veterans in a special tribute. About two dozen Korean War veterans came forward to be recognized.

The event’s many speakers stressed the importance of remembering veterans’ sacrifices every day.

“The thing most people forget about are the ones who are suffering the most,” said William E. Brown, a retired master gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps. “At a given time there is approximately 40,000 veterans that are homeless. At any given time there are 15,300 that are on the streets or unsheltered living within the community that we somehow seem to forget about. ... Make sure we don’t forget them.”