Veterans recognized during services across county

People from all walks of life showed up Thursday at services across the county to recognize the men and women who have answered the call of duty for their country over the years.

One of the largest local Veterans Day services is held each year at the veterans memorial at Gaiser Park in Seymour.

That ceremony, sponsored and organized by the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center and Freeman Municipal Airport, always includes speeches, but sixth-graders also are incorporated into the activities.

This year, Braylon Floyd participated by placing a wreath in front of the veterans memorial.

The 11-year-old said he was honored to have been selected for that job.

“I was lucky because I was one out of a lot of kids who wanted to be able do that,” Floyd said. “I think it’s just a special day to show veterans love for what they did for us.”

Classmate Magdalena Sebastian Bartolome, who had the chance to lead the Pledge of Allegiance with Lanie Booher, agreed.

“I think it’s something good that they did, and we should be proud of them because that did that for us,” the 12-year-old said.

Sebastian Bartolome, whose dad is a veteran of the Army, said she was happy to be able to be selected to lead the pledge.

“I’ve never had the chance to do something like that,” she said.

The school’s choir also sang the anthems for each of the branches of the military. Veterans were invited to stand when the choir sang their branch’s song.

The featured speakers included Army veteran Jack Schrader of Seymour, Marine Corps veteran Don Furlow of Seymour and Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson.

“We have come here today to honor the men and women of the community who went forth as the living strength of our country,” Schrader said. “They were the United States Armed Forces on land, sea and in the air. Some of them did not return. They are the honored dead whose resting places are found in many foreign lands and waters around the world.”

Schrader, who served from 1965 to 1967 and spent time in Korea near the demilitarized zone, said America’s defenders left their schools, shops and farms to take up arms against the country’s enemies.

“They left peacetime pursuits with confidence in their heart,” he said. “They were aware of the dangers before them, yet they responded without hesitancy to the call of duty.”

Furlow quoted from the poem “I am a Veteran,” written by Andrea Brett in 2002.

It ends with this passage: “I’m part of a fellowship, a strong mighty band, of each man and each woman, who has served this great land, and when old glory waves, I stand proud, I stand tall, I helped keep her flying over you, over all, I am a veteran.”

Nicholson also thanked the servicemen and servicewomen for answering the call.

“Thinking of our heroes who join us here today and those who are only here in spirit, a person can’t help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter,” he said. “We stand in the midst of patriots and the family and friends who have nobly served.”

He said veterans all share several fundamental qualities.

“They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness and dedication to duty and integrity,” Nicholson said. “Many of them didn’t ask to leave their home to fight on distant battlefields. Many didn’t even volunteer. They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting. They were called to be something larger than themselves.”

Fifth-graders from Brownstown Elementary School gathered inside the Jackson County Courthouse for a Veterans Day ceremony. It was sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour and led by veterans Glen Killey of Brownstown and Marvin Hash of Freetown.

Seated on the floor, the fifth-graders waved flags as Killey raised the flag and John Spurgeon sang patriotic tunes such as “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.” Hash led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Doug Pogue, associate pastor of Brownstown Christian Church, gave a commemorative address during the ceremony.

He opened by talking about the story of Jonathan from 1 Samuel in the Bible.

In it, Jonathan had an armor-bearer that carried his sword and shield. Pogue said the two encountered a small room of 20 enemy soldiers and Jonathan said, “I think we can take them.”

A fight ensued and Jonathan and his armor-bearer defeated all 20 soldiers despite being outnumbered.

Before the battle, Pogue said Jonathan asked his armor-bearer if he wanted to put it all on the line for the cause.

“Go ahead, I am with you heart and soul,” the armor-bearer said.

Veterans Day was established after World War I formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

Seven months before, on Nov. 11, 1918, a ceasefire was declared with a written armistice, the same date that Veterans Day is celebrated annually.

“As I think about all of our fighting men and women who worked diligently to keep our freedoms, safety and security, I have to think of the armor-bearer, and I want to thank all of them (for their) heart and soul,” Pogue said.

He said he could only speak to the military commitment that veterans have made from three points of view as an act of gratitude.

The first was him realizing the sacrifices of time and life that soldiers make to keep their country free.

In 1973, Pogue said he was a senior in high school when President Richard Nixon started pulling troops out of Vietnam. At the time, Pogue said he was relieved since he wouldn’t be drafted and would be able to go to college.

“Now for those of you that are standing around this room who did not have that option, I want to thank you for your service because you served on a basis that was not a voluntary basis,” he said. “You were called into the service. We don’t know what that’s like today.”

The second and third points of view Pogue had were from his son, Courtney, and his father, Robert, who are both veterans.

Courtney was compelled to join the military in the aftermath of 9/11. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pogue said he watched and waited to see if he would come home safely.

“I am thrilled to tell you today that he did come back safely. He wasn’t the same, but he came back safe,” Pogue said. “I am thankful to him for his commitment to country, to faith and his dedication to freedom because he was all in heart and soul.”

Pogue’s father had a fractured spine and suffered from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. He enlisted without telling anyone about his condition and was assigned to carry heavy weapons and ammunition.

Pogue called him an armor-bearer and said, “He decided he was going to be all in heart and soul.” Robert eventually was given a medical discharge and sent home.

The address ended with Pogue reading a poem called “My Name is Old Glory” and encouraged everyone to look at an American flag while he read it.

Dick Parman closed the ceremony by playing “Taps” on the trumpet.

The honor guard from VFW Post 1925 did a gun salute outside the courthouse while everyone watched from inside.