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Veterans Day Celebration 2009 in Oyster Bay

Veterans Are Often Ordinary People Who Accomplish Extraordinary Things

Veterans Day, Nov. 11, was celebrated in Oyster Bay in front of Town Hall West, where the war memorials are located. Members of the Quentin Roosevelt Post #4 American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8033 together honored those who served in all wars. The time chosen, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, commemorates the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. Originally called Armistice Day, on May 24, 1954 it became Veterans Day, by an act of Congress.

Wreaths were laid at the American Legion monument and the VFW monument.

American Legion Commander William Ferris said that there are two days that we honor veterans. “On Memorial Day we honor those who paid the supreme sacrifice. On this, the second day, Veterans Day, we are commemorating the services of veterans of all wars.” The theme of this year’s Veterans Day was to remember, “How men and women set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nation’s cause, defending the freedom of mankind and preserving our precious American heritage.” He said that at the end of their military service, “We continue our endeavors in behalf of an honorable world peace.”

American Legion Chaplain Harold Havekotte offered a prayer.

Nassau County American Legion Past Commander Reginald Butt, Jr. delivered the major address saying, “Ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. Simply put, that’s who veterans are.

“Young and old – rich and poor – black and white – and nearly every category in between, they are men and women who served or still serve America.

“Some have endured great hardships, separation from family and drastically altered lifestyles. Some have experienced the horrors of war. All sacrificed something so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.

“It would be a stretch to believe that these extraordinary accomplishments are mere coincidence and not due to the discipline, motivational skills, calmness under pressure and other leadership traits that are instilled in every man and woman that has served in the greatest military force on the planet.

“When then – Governor Ronald Reagan introduced returning POW John McCain at a speaking engagement in 1974, the future president asked, ‘Where do we find such men?’

“He was speaking of many veterans, when he answered, ‘We find them in our streets, in the offices, the shops and the working places of our country and on the farms.’

“In other words, President Reagan was referring to ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.

“It is America, not America’s military, that al Qaeda and other terrorists have declared war on. But it is our Armed Forces that carry the great burden and responsibility of defending us. Fortunately, our military is made up of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things.

“Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title ‘military Veteran.’ And what a list of accomplishments can those 10 percent claim!

“From defeating Communism, Fascism and Imperialism, to keeping the peace during the Cold War and battling terrorism today, America owes a debt to her veterans that can never be repaid.

“When remembering the millions of people who have been liberated by American forces around the globe from history’s most evil oppressors, Winston Churchill’s words about the Battle of Britain comes to mind. ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’

“Today is important because we choose to honor the living veterans from the Greatest Generation to the Latest Generation. But we must honor them with deeds, not just words.

“We must heed the words of our first Commander-in-Chief, General George Washington who said, ‘The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.’

“Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And part of that debt is owed to the military families who have sacrificed so much for their country.

“We must honor all of these families and not just with Blue and Gold Star Banners, but with compassionate hearts. PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and life-altering war wounds not only affect the veteran, but can also take an enormous toll on the family as well.

“While veterans are often ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary things, it is often an extraordinary family that supports the ordinary veteran. And it is the veterans that have given us this extraordinary country.

“God bless you all for being here, God bless our veterans and God bless America,” concluded Mr. Butt.